We’re well into one year past “Rebirth,” and at this point I’m calling the label mere dressing as opposed to an overarching storyline. While many of the books, at least early on, seemed to tie into the general themes of the Doctor Manhattan mystery, they seemed to have moved on from that. And that’s fine. That thing is going to come to a head in Doomsday Clock and maybe the other titles will start breathing on their own. That said, let’s see what’s out this week.
Dark Days: The Forge #1 (Snyder/Tynion/Lee/Kubert/Romita/Williams/Janson/Miki/Sinclair): Normally we review these alphabetically, but look, Dark Days is going to be the talk of the town this week and the trade dress that replaces “Rebirth.” Oof—what an all-star cast: this book looks pretty in parts, but jumbled as a whole. But it looks like it’ll be a fun crossover, the kind that takes unconnected, disparate parts of the DCU and somehow finds a way to fit them together. Green Lantern rings? Nth metal? Plastic Man? All of these things are coalescing—and we have no idea how, because this is really what you’d call a “zero” issue that sets up more questions than it answers. But it looks like the road getting there will be fun. Rating: Four metals out of five.
Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny (Humphries/Ortiz/Grummet/Hanna/Buccellato): If you were afraid these Looney Tunes crossovers were going to be as weird as the Hanna-Barbera reboots…they’re not. LOSH/Bugs is at least premised on being an overtly goofball comic, the kind of thing that just might have worked as an actual Saturday morning cartoon of yesteryear and taking potshots at the kind of ridiculous comic book tropes you no longer see. Grummet’s art isn’t quite right, as his take on Bugs is sometimes astonishingly right, and sometimes just a little too far into the uncanny valley. The backup feature cutely tells a second tale in the format of an old 1970s comic, except it…repeats the exact story we just read? Frankly, it’s the better half, except that the humor is diminished by doubling what we just read. Rating: Four carrots out of five.
Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian (Orlando/Barbiere/Fanning/Lopresti/Moore/Loter/Hi-Fi): Geeze louise, there’s another one of these? This comic takes a bit more of a serious bent than LOSH/Bugs, but with Marvin still being absurdly ridiculous even when presented as more “ridiculous.” MM/MTM almost borders on being introspective with one Martian loving the Earth and the other hating it, yet both needing each other’s company. Once again, a zany backup is presented, this one with a traditional version of Marvin and a most-decidedly a-traditional version of J’onn. The kids will enjoy this one, even if they’ve never seen a Looney Tunes short. Rating: Three and a half space modulators out of five.
Action Comics #981 (Jurgens/Herbert/Hi-Fi): The current arc is looking to shape up to be an S-shield slobberknocker with Superman fighting Cyborg, the Eradicator, and Zod, and the overt promise of a lot more shields to come. There’s not a lot of depth to this story, with it basically amounting to a nicely drawn hodgepodge of a bunch of Kryptonians punching each other. The last page does go to a surprise twist which…will probably be resolved by the next issue (need we point out that Lois Lane has two legs here even though one has been chopped off in Superman?), but it’s still scary enough to see. Rating: Three capes out of five.
Detective Comics #958 (Tynion/Martinez/Fernandez/Anderson): The plot is a little scattershot, with a plot concerning the final fate of Azrael’s order on one hand and Bruce seeking out a surprise old friend on the other (the last page is a treat). Fortunately, everything converges by the end of the book and sets the tone for where the rest of the arc is going. Couple that with a well-rounded cast and some pretty solid art from Martinez and Ferndandez, and we have a winning combination of a book (albeit one that’s hindered by some throwback references to Batman and Robin Forever). Rating: Three and a half cowls out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #22 (Venditti/Van Scriver/Wright): Venditti seems to be teasing us. The Greens and the Yellows are enmeshed into a working alliance, but tears are working into those cracks, and a pirate captured on a joint mission warns them of a fact that could tear them apart. Hal Jordan remains a consistently decent title with a strong combination of writing and art. It’s not offering a lot that’s new in comparison to Johns’ legendary run, but it’s doing what it does do very well. Rating: Four rings out of five.
Justice League of America #8 (Orlando/Watanabe/Miki/Hi-Fi): Introducing new characters—hero or villain—is hard. Orlando introduces a new character, “Makson,” a sort of Ka-Zar meets Tony Stark type who’s raised in the wild but smart enough to readapt to the real world a little too fast. Seriously, Makson’s readjustment stretches credibility to its breaking point, and while it might turn out to be more interesting in the long term…eh, the cover bills his introduction as some kind of comics event, but it’s really kind of boring, like it’s trying too hard to recreate something out of the Silver Age. Rating: Two and a half leagues out of five.
New Super-Man #12 (Yang/Tan/Haining/Gadson): Well, if you’re looking for Chinese fables and weird storytelling twists, this one’s for you. Kenan learns some startling truths about both one of his teammates, his father, and Doctor Omen all in the same issue. If you’ve been following along with this series, great, there’s definitely some payoff in this issue. Will this book last? Who knows, but it’s definitely one of DC’s overlooked oddities. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
Suicide Squad #19 (Williams/Edwards/Florea/Morey): Read this after Action Comics, since it’s a stealth tie-in to this week’s issue and goes into further detail on how the Eradicator and Cyborg got Zod out of Belle Reve. It’s not pretty as the Squad suffers a major loss in their efforts to stop Zod’s mechanations. Unfortunately, this issue really is a supplement to Action Comics and doesn’t quite hold up on its own, feeling very tonally different from prior issues of the series in terms of both writing and art. Rating: Two and a half brain bombs out of five.
Supergirl #10 (Orlando/Ching/Atiyeh): This issue feels half-baked, with Batgirl and Supergirl trapped without powers in the Phantom Zone (and weirdly, this doesn’t piggyback off the plot in Suicide Squad). Supergirl continues to be a book that’s difficult to sink one’s teeth into with its off-kilter art and a plot that’s hard to care about (pirate Kryptonians and some girl with psychic powers). It’s distinct from the other Super-titles…but manages to be uninteresting in the process. Rating: Two capes out of five.
Superwoman #11 (Perkins/Luis/McCarthy/Hi-Fi): Well, at least stylistically, the current creative team of Superwoman is tonally matching Phil Jimenez’ earlier run in both writing and art. The catch is that this issue focuses heavily on the Irons family, with the youngest member being kidnapped by an old Superman villain. Superwoman’s on the case, but this is very much a Steel story, so it’s hard to get the feel that this is Lana’s book when so much of the story doesn’t involve her. Rating: Three capes out of five.
The Flash #24 (Williamson/Di Giandomenico/Mhan/Plascencia): So here’s the one lingering thread of “Rebirth,” with Thawne alive (again) and deciding to sow further chaos in Barry’s life. Seriously, this guy is such a one-trick pony. The side-story with Hal and Barry reconnecting is fine, but frustratingly divorced from Thawne’s fight with Kid Flash. Also, two artists on one issue is a bad combination even if their work, separately, is fine. Rating: Two and a half bolts out of five.
Titans #12 (Abnett/Rocafort/Brown): This issue is a much-needed jumping-on point that plays catch-up with the team through the eyes of the very undeveloped Lilith. The issue gives us a way forward on Bumblebee’s memories and a warning of a danger within for the Titans…which, once again, appears to be unconnected to the Watchmen plot. Still, this issue has a lot hurting it, including some ambiguous art (Garth looks like Dick with some facial hair, and Wally just looks off), and a new development which will send Wally West fans into a blind rage. Ugh, the move made here just wasn’t necessary. Rating: Two and a half Titans out of five.
The Winner: There’s a lot of tolerably good stuff this week, but what the hell, let’s say The Forge just because it looks like it’s setting something up that’s weird and fun, and we love a mystery.
The Loser: Supergirl needs help. The book remains an attempt to ride on the show’s success, and yet the elements just aren’t coming together well enough to make it interesting. Ching, to his credit, draws a pretty good Batgirl, but this isn’t Batgirl’s book and she’s going to exit soon enough.