Another week, another dollar. Or $2.99, anyway. Here’s how DC is doing this round.
Action Comics #986 (Williams/March/Hi-Fi): I wasn’t as impressed with the last part of this fill-in, but Action #986 gets a little better. While March’s artwork is still sketchy, Williams plumbs Lex’s depths a little deeper and does get into that thin line between him being a good man and an evil one. With Lex, it’s really hard to tell some days. The important thing about this issue is the sudden appearance of Mister Oz and a major clue to his identity…which DC is promising to reveal in two weeks. Rating: Three capes out of five.
Batgirl #11 (Larson/Wildgoose/Marzan/Lopes): DC’s current timeline hasn’t given us a lot of opportunity to see our heroes’ early days…so this issue is a nice flashback to when Dick was still Robin and Babs was new to Gotham. The timetables seem a little off, as Babs and Dick are still in high school, and yet don’t look terribly different from how they do now…and on top of that, Babs has the worst disguise ever. But otherwise, it’s a nice contrast between their salad days and a mystery they’re looking to resolve in the present. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
Batman Beyond #11 (Jurgens/Chang/Maiolo): Punchy punchy! That’s how I enjoy describing an issue where the author has to preoccupy an entire issue with a throwdown. Terry fights Damian, Bruce fights Ubu, Jr., Damian fights Ubu, Jr. This issue turns out pretty much how you’d expect, with few surprises and a clean wrapup to this arc. It’s adequate, but not much more than that. Rating: Three schways out of five.
Detective Comics #963 (Tynion/Sabela/Carnero/Arreola/Fitzpatrick): Tynion reintroduces us to Anarky, and improves him for the 21st century by making him a rebel with a purpose. We get an interesting comparison between Anarky’s desire for control versus Clayface trying to reestablish his humanity over his fear of losing it. These separate plots don’t gel together, but they at least link thematically. Readers may want to read the opening flashback pages between Steph and Tim Drake in light of last week’s Batwoman #6, too. Rating: Three bats out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #27 (Venditti/Sandoval/Tarragona/Morey): A gigantic space robot is chasing down the New Gods, and only the GLC can stop it. That…seems a little backwards, as the New Gods always seem to fluctuate between being unbeatable space deities and ordinary superheroes from another planet. If you’re just walking into this issue and didn’t get #26, you’ll be a bit lost…but if you can get past that, the issue is a decent read by the second half. Rating: Three and a half rings out of five.
Harley Quinn #26 (Conner/Palmiotti/Timms/Sinclair): Coming off the medium-sized anniversary issue is…well, there’s not a lot to this issue. It’s another big fight, with Harley doing a number of ridiculously disgusting things to the Unbeatable 25. This is probably Harley’s most gruesome issue to date, and yet it’s all played for laughs. This issue ends with a moderately surprising move, but otherwise not much of the multiple plotlines in this book were advanced. I don’t know. This was an issue of a comic book. Rating: Two and a half mallets out of five.
Nightwing: New Order #1 (Higgins/McCarthy/Clark): Who’d have thought that Dick Grayson could be evil? Well, even New Order doesn’t make him overtly “evil,” so much as “too concerned with the good.” Some unclear event resulted in Dick taking away the world’s superpowers, and 30 years into the future, he runs a police squad whose goal is to keep things that way. It’d be easy to see this story and its clichéd ending as a metaphor for gay rights, but really, it works for anyone. The world is increasingly becoming divided into “us” versus “them,” and the temptation to shut down anyone not “us” is ever-present. New Order confronts the issue of discovering that “them” is sometimes other people, including ones we know. So this first issue is, for the time being, readable. Rating: Three batons out of five.
Suicide Squad #24 (Williams/Padilla/Ferreyra/Lucas): Can American really be a democracy when it’s run by an oligarchy who knows “best”? Williams is kicking around some dangerous questions with the nature of the Squad and the government, which is plotting to take down America’s superheroes in the name of letting “the people” rule themselves—but isn’t that just trading one oligarch for another? And aren’t Batman and Killer Frost Americans too? This issue quickly kicks back into fight mode, but these are good concepts for Williams to chew on further down the line. The art’s a bit sketchy, though—this reads a bit like Justice League vs. Suicide Squad in miniature, but without the line-wide promotion. Rating: Three squads out of five.
Teen Titans (Percy/Pham/Chester/Scott/Charalampidis): It seems like all of the Titans have screwed up family members, which is firmly emphasized in Jackson’s non-relationship with his father, Black Manta. For the most part, this issue works, although it’s heavily focused on Jackson with the other Titans as ornamentation. Let’s hope there’s a full “team” issue at some point. Rating: Three and a half Titans out of five.
The Flash #29 (Williamson/Mhan/Duce/Hi-Fi): Here’s a twist: Barry’s powers have been warped by the Negative Speed Force, and now he can’t trust himself to use them safely. Barry spends the issue being intentionally powerless, and as a result, he has to learn how to do things the old-fashioned way while being tempted to do what used to reliably work. The issue is slower as a result, but with a purpose, and this actually manages to click up the tension. Rating: Three lightning bolts out of five.
Skipped this week: Blue Beetle, Hellblazer, Kamandi Challenge, and Kirby 100: Manhunter.
This week has no winners or losers! Harley Quinn was kind of “meh,” but not awful. Just “there.” If I really need to pick a winner…hmmm, ok, Batgirl is a fun little read, though it’s a two-parter. Buy that.