Action Comics #959
Straight out of the gate, Action comics #959 feels a continuing chapter of a cracking superhuman romp. Without question, every aspect is pitch perfect, with great character moments such as Lex Luthor displaying smug arrogance as usual. Lex ultimately struggles whilst Superman is tasked with with tackling essentially the same Doomsday whilst focusing on not making the previous errors that lead to his death some twenty or years ago.
The art and colouring by Tyler Kirkham/Rif Prianto are clean and polished but unafraid to delve into portraying Doomsday as the monstrous threat he is. The monthly combination of Zircher and Kirkham leaves me in full confidence that Action Comics is in spectacularly capable hands for the future.
Dan Jurgens returns to the same central premise he last left his impact on Superman (AKA 1993’s “The Death of Superman”) but with a noticeably more mature attitude. Since Superman, Lois Lane and their son Jon originate from before the 2011 New 52 relaunch, the decompressed nature of the bimonthly schedule allows him to take time exploring narratives they find themselves in. A great example is that Lois’ role last time Superman fought Doomsday was acting as a surrogate audience, thankfully she has a more meaningful contribution this time. From an audience point of view, Lois and Jon have a conversation one might expect families in dangerous professions have. “He’s going to come back isn’t he?” Jon asks. “He did last time” the emotional resonance is compounded by the last three pages, leading to a spectacular cliffhanger that harkens back to the silver age of comics. Action Comics #959 has me anxiously for the next few weeks to fly by.
Dick, oh Dick. You’ve been a trapeze artist, the OG robin, Nightwing and then Agent 37. By all any other means going back to the Nightwing pseudonym would be just that-going back. Thankfully handling the writing duties are back with none other than Tim Seeley, who together with Tom “All Hail The” King sent Dick Grayson from a D-Lister to have one of the greatest resurgence in popularity of late. The writing quality directly translates to this Rebirth issue as Seely wraps up previous storylines in a neat bow and creates a fantastic platform for the future. Seely demonstrates he has an innate display of how each player acts and interact while ultimately showing us what we want to see and giving us what we want. Dick back in the black-and-blue suit.
Handling the art duties is none other than Yannick Paquette, hot off the back of Wonder Woman: Earth One. Acting in unison with Nathan Fairbain they bring a fresh joy to the book that chimes perfectly with the essence of Dick Graysons’ reputation as the fun Batman.
Nightwing Rebirth enjoys nods to the relationships from previous series whilst also gleefully enjoying the original continuity of the Nightwing name. A perfect palate cleanser for Nightwing #1, if you are a fan of Dick Grayson/robin at all, this issue definitely deserves your hard earned cash.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1
Let’s see what one would normally expect of a Green Lantern book. Ethan van Sciver on art duties and as per standard knocking it out of the park? Check. Sinestro being scheming and evil? Check. Hal Jordan being the most popular character and therefore the main focus? Check. Robert Vendetti and Ethan van Scivers’ Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth has all these and more.
Setting the scene for the relaunch of the title next month, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth does little other than to get the basic props in place for the main event. Hal is no longer evading whoever was pursuing him in the previous run (also written by Robert Vendetti) and the overarching dialogue essentially recaps where he is now. By inserting a very brief call to the future, the stage is set.
The book is a bit of fun and rousing toward the climax, but other than to see Ethan van Sciver and Vendetti to clear the slate, there isn’t much of as need to get hold of this book. Hold on for the #1 issue, that’s sure to start going somewhere.
The New Super-Man #1
Introducing an original title character to the DC universe is usually a hard sell. When said character is of an entirely different culture and adopting the mantle unofficially from a previous hero, the pressure is really on. Adding to the difficulty is making that character compelling whilst not completely sanitising them by making their behaviour too good or too bad; both facets are easily book killers. Astoundingly the groundwork laid by writer Gene Luen Yang, The New Super-Man introduces a fully formed world with characters that feel interesting and fresh. The”Super man” in question is Kenan Kong, who demonstrates early on that his approach is much less of a role model, more of a bully with a compulsive heroic steak.
With Viktor Bogdanivic on art duties, it is clear from the start that there’s more to Kenan than his macho blustering would suggest. Kenan is not “Broad shouldered. Handsome like a movie star.” He’s simply bigger and more arrogant than the kid he’s beating up. Colourist Hi-Fi, inker Richard Friend and penciler Bogdanivic create him and that world in a way which echoes Greg Capullo and FCOs work on batman, to fantastic effect.
Much like with any book, without backup characters any compelling hero falls by the wayside. This is another area in which The New Super-Man excels as many of the supporting cast to some extent mirror the roles of the original superman cast but with a significant change. Keenan’s father is not only alive but an idealist cynic, being both a conspiracy theorist and a firm believer in truth justice and democracy. This attention to character dynamics and well crafted storytelling has me hooked for the next issue. This has turned out to be an exceptionally strong week, bring on next month!
Hellblazer Rebirth #1
John Constantine lives in between the world of humans and demons, it is safe to say. In this week’s escapade he seeks to escape the clutches of a demon who has trapped John in London.
Constantine has had a lot of trouble with recent adaptations. Being a popular breakout character of DC’s vertigo imprint, since being folded into the mainstream DC universe fortunes haven’t favoured the Scouse rogue. Modern writers have mostly shyed away from the matter-of-fact approach to the dark magic John used to inhabit in favour of flashy and fantastical approach. With Hellblazer Rebirth, Simon Oliver’s take on DC’s world of magic is mostly a vertigo take. Magic is mostly underhand, subtle manipulations preferred. I stress the word mostly when referring to vertigo as unfortunately the last three pages make an about turn that had me sighing in disappointment. The resolution isn’t horrendous but it does have a narrative choice best left alone. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean.
Art duties are taken by Moritat and Andre Szymanowicz, who do a good job with setting up the grimy tone through a palate that reflects London on a drizzly day. Moritat shows an undercurrent of sardonic humour with tongue-in-cheek background visual gags. Hence why the book reads like a Vertigo book for the most part. I hate to repeat has already been spoiled on Bleeding Cool, but yes, Donald Trump is President in the DC universe. That is canon.
It’s this what old school readers of Hellblazer are looking for? On the most part is say so. This is without question an attempt to appeal to old readers and those more familiar with the recent Constantine TV series. On that basis it toes the line, but isn’t certainly appealing to fans of one or the other. Certainly worth checking out, but not quite the breakout hit it should be.
Green Lanterns #3
Sam Humphries has had a remarkable turn of late. Since Green Lanterns has debuted he has shown a remarkable ability to both turn Green Lantern comics fun again and at the same time revitalising the most recent members of the Earth Green Lantern Corps.
Perhaps it is because of this that is a surprising sight to see Green Lanterns #3 have more names on the front cover of a single issue I’ve ever seen. Hold your breath, because this issue has: been pencilled by none other than Tom Derenick, Robson Rocha, Jack Herbert, Neil Edwards; inked by Tom Palmer, Jay Leistein, Herbert (again), Keith Champagne and coloured by HiFi. Admittedly it does look like it’s been drawn by this many people, but at the same time it’s surprising how consistent the art is.
Thankfully whilst good writing can sometimes save bad art, there is no need to worry about Green Lanterns #3. A few wonky spots aside, the story flows as it’s meant to. Humphries allows breathing room for Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz to work out a solution to the Red Lanterns’ plan to infect the world with Rage whilst Simon is forced to deal with Red Lantern Bleez.
Without question Green Lanterns has been one of the surprise breakouts of Rebirth, and I’m glad to say that it’s third issue doesn’t disappoint. The only question I have for myself is which Lantern do I prefer more? It’s a hard choice. I can’t wait for the next two weeks.
Green Arrow #3
Give someone a clean slate and it’s always surprising what they will build upon it. Benjamin Percy had been writing Green Arrow comics for a not-insignificant amount of time, but it’s hopefully not too harsh to say that up until Rebirth his success in Green Arrow has been… Middling. The past three issues however have been a complete 180 in the best way possible. Percy has truly returned Oliver Queen to his roots. In the past couple of issues he has kindled a romance with Black Canary and actively fought for social justice as he sees it. This is the Ollie we know and love.
The Green Arrow of late has recently had his fortune taken from him and left for dead, so it’s time to investigate a mysterious organisation called the Ninth Circle who arranged his attempted assassination. Ollie’s doing so leads to some of the best fight sequences I’ve seen for quite a while.
Bolstered by Juan Ferreya on this weeks art duties, it is worth admiring the sheer dynamism in every page. Every punch has weight, every leap has grace. This is in addition to the whole issue being exceptionally beautiful to look at. It could be interpreted as an insult took name Ferreyas art as cheesecake, but rest assured the comparison is made in the most favourable terms.
Much like Green Lanterns, Green Arrow had been one of the great surprises to come out of Rebirth. Issue 3 in my eyes is solid confirmation that this run is one to put on your pull list.
Batman has had an interesting experience with Rebirth. In all honesty I actually find it quite difficult to review. On one end both writer Tom King and David Finch clearly love the Caped Crusader, yet each issue up to and including this one has fallen flat with me. Perhaps it’s acclimatising to a different style of batman after Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s much lauded run having recently ended; or maybe after reading King’s other work (Sheriff of Babylon, Vision and Grayson with Tim Seeley) the bar of quality is just too high for me to love this work which seems to aim for a much broader appeal.
That’s not to say that issue 3 is bad, and it hits all the beats I (and you, dear reader) should love. The dialogue with every character is great and art from Finch has some fantastic transitions, especially with vehicles. The end reveal promises to lead to great things too, with the entire story has continuity nods all over the place. In fact, the reason why I might not be going bananas over this series yet might just be in that fact. There is a lot of set up and groundwork being laid whilst the narrative is straightforward, bordering on very safe.
Regarding the plot, batman does what he always does-obsess. Naturally his targets are the newly arrived Gotham and Gotham Girl, who are subverting the status quo regarding who is and who isn’t the top vigilante in town. As you can probably imagine, Bats isn’t a fan.
So I’m not too hot on the series just yet, but it may grow on me. Everything is lined up to be the beginning of a great run, and for me King has built so much goodwill that at this point I’ll read anything he writes, and you should too.
By Alex Knight