It’s the day after Independence Day, so we’re past the midpoint of summer break and it’s all downhill from here. Let’s see what comics we have to spice up the remaining vacation.
Batman #26 (King/Janin/Chung): Geeze. “The War of Jokes and Riddles” is turning into so brutal a story that it’s amazing we’ve never really heard reference to it the way Zero Year is constantly name-dropped. Somewhere in Year Two, the Joker and Riddler waged an absolutely deadly war on each other that wrapped in the entire Bat-rogue’s gallery and killed numerous innocent Gothamites. It’s weirder still that Bruce is reciting this story to Catwoman–shouldn’t she have heard of this? Also frustrating–King drops a lot of open Batman historical references here, including an open imitation of the 1989 film. Ah, well. This is good run if you don’t think about it too hard. Rating: Three and a half riddles out of five.
Cyborg #14 (Semper Jr./Conrad/Nunes): Have Cyborg and Beast Boy never met in the post-Flashpoint DCU? Because they meet here for the first time, so that would appeat to be a negative. But there’s no time to recreate old friendships, because Cyborg and company are stuck on an alternate Earth where Anamoly ran out of control, and now everything looks like the lamentable Future’s End. This is readable and Conrad’s art is pretty good, but it’s a text and continuity-thick issue. Rating: Three microchips out of five.
Green Arrow #26 (Percy/Byrne): “Hard Traveling Hero” is making a play off the famous Green Lantern/Green Arrow run of the 1970s…though this doesn’t really have the political-moral exploration of its inspiration. Instead, it’s Ollie taking down a corporation which just happens to have somehow caused a massive Speed Force leak, giving an excuse to bring the Flash into the story, and the last page suggesting more heroes are to come. This is just OK, but it isn’t really looking into the “two sides of the issue” that the original “Hard Traveling Heroes” did. Rating: Three quivers out of five.
Green Lanterns #26 (Humphries/Cliquette/Arreola): Another filler-ish issue, but not really, since it’s by our usual creative team. But Humphries and Cliquette take a break from Simon and Jessica’s story to look back at the history of Volthoom and Rami, and where the first Green Lanterns came from. Volthoom is suffering from typical comic book villain hubris: my friend betrayed me, so I must become evil. Typical comic book, but like so many other titles, there’s nothing technically wrong with it. Rating: Three rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #23 (Palmiotti/Conner/Tims): This one falls kind of flat. When Palmiotti and Conner go for zany, they usually get there, but this issue is just kind of “there.” It’s weird enough, with Harley bringing her goat-headed friend to a dinner with her parents, but it’s just not that funny. The issue is heavy in both text and plot, the latter hampered by an uneventful reunion with Harley Sinn, Red Tool and Ivy being up to something, and the whole parents thing. And Timm’s classic Harley backup is cute, but again, it’s just “there.” Rating: Two and a half mallets out of five.
Justice League #24 (Abnett/Churchill/Lucas): Hmmm. A lot of the Rebirth books seem to be taking fill-in creative team breathers. In Justice League‘s case, this issue basically serves as Aquaman #25.1 with Dan Abnett having Mera do her best “Angry Namor” impression and the League trying to figure out how to help/stop her. It’s readable with some nice Churchill art, and mostly an opportunity for Mera to shine outside the Aquaman book. We’ll have to see if she sticks in this title, though. Rating: Three leagues out of five.
Nightwing #24 (Seely/Mendonca/Conesa/Sotomayor): Nightwing fights a bunch of third-rate villains, and maybe a bunch of second-rate ones…including one that’s probably going to raise a few eyebrows. Seriously, at least two-thirds of this issue is just Dick internal-monologuing while fighting a who’s who of low-level DC villains, some of whom have appeared in a number of other books recently (including Clock King, a different version of which is in this week’s Harley Quinn). Oy, continuity. Rating: Three batons out of five.
Superman #26 (Moreci/Godlewski/Hi-Fi): See? Another fill-in issue, though I guess Tomasi and Gleason have earned a week off. This issue finds a way to work the late Pa Kent into the book by contrasting Pa’s raising of an arrogant young Clark with Clark having the same problems with Jon. In other words, it’s a father/son story, and a worthy replacement for the normal good read we get. The art’s not quite as great, and Godlewski needs to work on drawing kids. But otherwise, a good read. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
The Winner: It’s Superman #26, which is a surprisingly good read for a fill-in. Decent father-son relationships are a rarity in comics, but this one shows that parenting is incredibly organic to the Superman story.
The Loser: Nobody. Even the worst of issues this week was at least tolerable. So, nobody gets roughed up this week!