We’re a little pressed for time this week, so let’s review some of the “team” books and see what’s good.
Action Comics #985 (Williams/Mitch/Hi-Fi): Fifteen issues to go, and we’re giving Jurgens a break, which is probably deserved. The team of Williams and Mitch is a little tonally off from what’s come before, but it’s readable. Still, they don’t get Lex quite right in an inadvertent pairing with Superman. Since “Rebirth,” Lex has been morally ambiguous: a villain beneath the surface, but just enough of a hero on the outside. Williams’ writing and Mitch’s art both give a clearer image of Lex as a bad guy in hiding, and that’s a little frustrating since the “gray” Lex is a little more disturbing–you don’t know what’s beneath the surface. Rating: Two and a half capes out of five.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #13 (Benson/Benson/Antonio/Passalaqua): I wish DC would make up its mind if Poison Ivy is a hero, a villain, or something in between. In her appearance in this month’s B&TBOP, Ivy straight-up kidnaps a man and his family, attempts to kill him, and effectively sets off a doomsday weapon which, fortunately, the BOP and Ivy are able to stop. Nonetheless, everyone is happy to join Ivy for a burger at the end of the story. The company likely still uses “style guides” for character appearances–how about for personalities too? Rating: Two and a half out of five birds.
Detective Comics #962 (Tynion IV/Martinez/Fernandez/Anderson): The good news is that this issue has pretty decent art and a plausible, 2010s reason for bringing back AzBats. Because let’s face it, AzBats was a special kind of awful, but Tynion says: hey, let’s see if we can make even that a heroic part of the Bat-family. However, the plot is rather overconvoluted, and if you’re just walking in now you might get a little lost. I guess the ending helps, as it has a major nod to “Rebirth” and suggests that there’s been multiple threads tied to the fabric of the conspiracy in this book. Rating: Three bats out of five.
Harley Quinn #25 (Conner/Palmiotti/Dini/Hardin/Blevins/Bone/Sinclair): Funny enough, both the lead and the backup story reflect on how different Harley has become since her inception. Conner and Palmiotti take the lead in the goofball lead story where Harley throws a party with 25-ish guests and ends up taking on 25 villains, and manages to sneak in a few lesbian-flirtation moments fans will love. The backend is Dini doing a wrapup to the classic BTAS Harley, although on a cheap shot, the story is to-be-continued in yet another comic. Either way: Harley is now a far cry from the cartoon character abuse victim from the early 1990s. Now she’s an independent goofball anti-hero, and even when she goes back to her roots, nobody wants to revisit the abuse stuff. And that’s fine. This issue does lose a few points for neither story being self-contained–it’d be nice to get a complete oversized package here. Rating: Three mallets out of five.
Justice League America #12 (Orlando/Reis/Maiolo) finally gets into the mystery of where Ray Palmer went that was teased some 15 months ago. This is one of the big “Rebirth” deals, so let’s hope there’s some payoff. But the issue brings back Ivan Reis (let’s hope he does the rest of the arc to keep it consistent) and offers some teasers about why Lobo is there. OK, this arc is the chance to show that the series has a purpose. Rating: Three and a half leagues out of five.
Suicide Squad #22 (Williams/Vazquez/Lopez): Hmmm, yeah, don’t mess with Batman. Sending the Squad after Killer Frost jacks things up to a personal level since she’s now part of Batman’s kinder, gentler B-grade Justice League. Batman is honestly about to humiliate the Squad in their own book, but the twist ending certainly surprised me. Vazquez’s art isn’t bad, but has so much going on in terms of detail that it’s very busy to read at times. Rating: Three squads out of five.
Titans #14 (Abnett/Booth/Rapmund/Dalhouse): One of the problems I have with Abnett and Booth’s Titans is that it reads like one of those generic superhero books from the early 90s where everyone and anyone was publishing. The art and story here are serviceable, but it feels like the essence of what made the original Titans “fun” is missing here in exchange for a story that’s, eh, not really special compared to the rest of the market. I give credit for the twist ending here–we knew that there’s a traitor on the team, but the revelation is still surprising. But man, getting there is kind of dull. Rating: Two and a half Titans out of five.
The Winner is Justice League America, which is surprising because I’ve been hating on that book. Hint to DC: keep Ivan Reis around for the important stuff. The loser is, shoot, Action Comics, which wasn’t awful but as a fill-in, it’s still tonally different than the standard Jurgens stuff. Yes, I miss the Jurgens stuff.
We didn’t get to The Flash, Hal Jordan, Supergirl, or Superwoman this week, and maybe Belle will cover Red Hood and the Outlaws if she has time this week. But you can tell how I feel about the other books based on the fact that I couldn’t get to them. Well, Hal Jordan is OK.