Friday, June 3, 2016

Weekly Comic Pull #7: Rebirth Edition

Welcome to the seventh installment of our weekly dive into the world of comics! As I mentioned before, I was not able to post at our usual time last week, as I was on a plane and therefore was unable to be at a comic shop. After a spell, I ended up deciding to just wait until this week for a few reasons, the main one being that this gives me an opportunity to have the DC Rebirth 80 page one-shot as well as some of the new Rebirth issues in the same post. So not only will we get the big issue, we'll be seeing the aftermath too.

Just a heads up, I probably won't be covering EVERYTHING as I usually do (I don't want this to get too long), so I'll probably skip over the issues I had less to say about. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the Rebirth edition of this week's Weekly Pull List, starting with the big one...

DC Universe Rebirth #1

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez

Okay. What to say about Rebirth? Well, first off, I won't be giving any spoilers, despite a lot of people already knowing because of the internet. What I will say, though, is that, despite this issue not actually accomplishing as much as I'd maybe had hoped (kinda like Civil War II #0), I actually find this issue to be an incredibly satisfying read. It would be inaccurate to say that this issue was a huge event that shattered or irrevocably changed the DC Universe. Instead, what this issue does is open the door for a new story that WILL change everything. To put it simply, it doesn't tell a story so much as pave the way for a potentially great one, and it does it well. That's not to say that nothing happens in the issue. Quite a bit happens, actually. Including one event that old-school DC fans will jump for joy at, with a panel that tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who knows these characters.You see the beginnings of what can only be described as hope sprouting in places across the DC Universe. What's great is that these changes don't feel forced, they feel really well integrated into the universe, especially after recent events in books like Justice League, Batman, Superman, and so on. In that way, it fulfills the promise Geoff Johns made about doing what he did with the Flash and Green Lantern, bringing what we loved back while looking towards the future. To say much more than that would be ruining much of the story. The last thing I'll say is that the final pages do leave me wondering what exactly they're going to do with this revelation. I can't say I 100% love it, but what it DOES do is pose some very interesting questions. All I can do is wait and see. For now, I can say that the DC Universe you love is back, and it's good to be home.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Batman Rebirth #1

Written by Tom King & Scott Snyder
Art by Mikel Janen

Springboarding right off of the Rebirth one-shot, we have Batman Rebirth, a taste of what is to come from the brand new Batman series from Tom King. For this issue, King is given a bit of a helping hand by exiting writer, Scott Snyder, coming off of his critically acclaimed 5 year run on the character, and just before starting his new series, All-Star Batman. What's clear here is both these guys know what they're doing when it comes to Batman. It's not entirely delineated how much influence Snyder had over King's writing, but regardless, the results speak for themselves. For what it's supposed to be, a teaser, Batman Rebirth does an excellent job at getting the reader ready for what's to come. In this issue, we get a look at a brand new interpretation of the often-overlooked Batman baddie, Calendar Man, and an extra creepy version of him to boot. Also in the spotlight is Duke from the We Are Robin series, a character who I enjoyed in his guest spots in both Batman & Robin Eternal and the main Batman book. I hadn't seen anything about him in any promo art prior to this issue, so it's nice to see that he's sticking around, complete with a new yellow and black suit. Duke doesn't yet have a codename to go with the suit, but the issue makes a point about stressing that Duke is NOT a new Robin, especially since we already know that Tim Drake is gonna be Robin. Add to that some great art by Mikel Janen, and you have an issue that accomplishes its goals, to get you excited for where Batman is going next. I can't wait to see what King does with the Caped Crusader.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Superman Rebirth #1

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jaime Mendoza & Doug Mahnke

One of the biggest thing that Rebirth has been stressing is the return of legacy in the DC Universe, and one of the biggest parts of this is the recent shake-up in the Superman books. For those not in the know (and yes, this contains SPOILERS FOR SUPERMAN #52), the Man of Steel himself has died. The New 52 version of him at least. What we're left with is the classic pre-Flashpoint Superman as the sole Man of Steel in this universe, meaning that, not only do we have the legacy of the pre-Flashpoint universe here, but we also have the legacy of a Superman who died in the line of duty. This theme of sacrifice and legacy is what Superman Rebirth #1 is all about. Taking place just after the death of New 52 Superman, this issue features the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lana Lang attempting to find a way to either resurrect their fallen friend or, if that should fail, see to it that he rests peacefully. The resulting story is a touching one, and makes reference to the famous story, the Death of Superman, with this new (old?) Superman knowing that a resurrection is possible since he's lived through one before. It's not hard to make us sympathize with this Superman since he has such a legacy, but Tomasi doesn't skimp on making him feel as much like the original Superman as he always was. It's a good feeling to have him back, and it makes the promise of change in DC Rebirth feel real. This issue doesn't do much to set up the new Superman or Action Comics books, but what it does is give this universe's Superman, and really the New 52 as a whole, a proper sendoff and a proper burial. Honor the past while looking towards the future, and from where I'm standing, the future looks bright indeed.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Green Lanterns Rebirth #1

Written by Sam Humphries & Geoff Johns
Art by Ed Benes & Ethan Van Sciver

It's tough being the new kid. No one knows that better than Jessica Cruz, who became a Green a week ago, basically. Green Lanterns Rebirth is the prelude to a new series, Green Lanterns, which seeks to pair her up with another new Lantern, Simon Baz, and within seconds of meeting each other in this issue, they start to butt heads. What I think is nice is that neither of them seems to be on any real higher ground than the other. Simon Baz is the more experienced of the two, but only barely, and that fact goes to his head. Jessica Cruz has a good heart, but is still trying to figure out how to use her powers correctly, let alone how to be a proper Green Lantern. The conceit of the new series is that the two have a shared Lantern power battery, meaning that they have to be in the same place in order to use their powers, which means they either have to get along or die trying, literally. Hal Jordan, who appears briefly, describes this as more of a training exercise than anything else, which makes sense. Part of my kinda rolled my eyes when he combined their batteries because I thought they were just contriving a reason to have them together all the time, but it's a concept that makes sense. They both have their issues and they need to be able to work them out or they can't very well be Lanterns. We get a good amount of stuff with each of them separately, but we don't get to spend a lot of time with them together, which is interesting because that's supposed to be the main idea of the book. What we got of them together is interesting enough, but didn't get enough space to properly breathe. Hopefully, this is just a side-effect of the fact that this Rebirth issue has so much to explain and less a flaw on the writing side, especially since writer Sam Humphries won't have Geoff Johns, a veritable Green Lantern scholar and visionary, on board to help him once the real book starts. It's got potential, but only if Humphries keeps his eye on the ball. Luckily, the tease of the villains at the end does ensure that the upcoming story will be exciting, if nothing else.

Tony's Score: 7.5/10

Green Arrow Rebirth #1

Written by Ben Percy
Art by Otto Schmidt

I've never read a Green Arrow comic before. All I've read of Black Canary was the most recent series, and a bit of New 52 Birds of Prey. I've only seen like three episode of Arrow. So I'm not exactly an expert on this stuff. Regardless, what IS clear is that this story has a LOT of heart, and could possibly get me to actually care about Green Arrow. This issue documents the first real meeting post-Flashpoint of this universe's Green Arrow and Black Canary, who old-school comic fans know have been partners, as well as lovers, in classic pre-Flashpoint stories. And really, while I think the recent Black Canary series has been losing a lot of steam, this story shows just why these two characters work with each other. The chemistry between them is great, and Ben Percy takes complete advantage of the fact that Green Arrow has typically been a very political book, and uses it as part of the crux of their relationship. Black Canary very quickly calls Oliver out on his seemingly helping the poor while living in the lap of luxury, which we quickly realize is more complicated than it seems. The politics doesn't seep too far into the comic, but it is definitely something that I could see turning off some readers. Oliver even refers to himself as a "social justice warrior," which I can just guess makes sectors of the internet clench their rear ends for various different reasons. Overall though, I did like this issue a lot, and I may actually pick up the Green Arrow series based on this. If only just to get that great banter between him and Dinah.

Tony's Score: 8/10

Uncanny Inhumans #9

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Kev Walker

As anyone who has read Chris Clairmont's run on Uncanny X-Men back in the day can attest, comic books are soap opera. Keeping that tradition alive and well is Uncanny Inhuman #9. Crystal has discovered that her sister, Medusa, is going out with her ex, Johnny Storm AKA the Human Torch, and the couple have to deal with the repurcussions of that revelation. Oh yeah, and there's also something about an alien race kidnapping them to fight to the death for their amusement and their ship hurtling towards the sun. Ya know. Standard stuff. For what it is, though, it's actually handled kinda well. What would otherwise be the perfect opportunity to have superheroes fight each other is instead handled kinda maturely. Which is kinda weird considering how often situations like this are used to, again, get heroes fighting each other. Though the previously mentioned alien stuff really does come out of nowhere. The characters are both literally and figuratively teleported out of their story in the middle of it to begin a different story. And while the premise pays off, it is definitely a jarring transition. Especially since the relationship stuff is really the part that grabbed me, and honestly, this second story they introduce I find really generic and uninteresting. There's some neat action, but I found myself just waiting for them to get back to the main story. When they do, though, they don't shy away from how uncomfortable the situation is for some of them, especially Crystal. I just wish we hadn't gotten so sidetracked.

Tony's Score: 8/10

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #6

Written by Kate Leth
Art by Natasha Allegri

Let's get the biggest thing out of the way. This issue features a guest artist, Natasha Allegri, who may have one of the most adorable art styles I've ever seen in a comic book. I don't know where they got this woman, but Marvel needs to give her a book immediately. Because, while I'd rather keep the regular artist, this artist NEEDS more work. With that out of the way, this issue featured a one-off story to fill in the gap between the first and second stories, featuring the X-Men and Avengers villain, Arcade, specifically a lighter and more mischievous Arcade than we've recently gotten. What's great about this is, despite how lethal this scheme seems to be on his part, you can't ever really take him too seriously, which is great. Patsy Walker isn't a book to take too seriously, and this Arcade fits the tone perfectly. She-Hulk and Patsy's friends join her at Coney Island to defeat Arcade, and hilarity ensues. Especially from She-Hulk. This is a great funny She-Hulk story that I'd recommend to all She-Hulk fans. Overall, this is just a great issue, another great issue from a great series, and with the short cameo at the end of this issue, the second story looks to be just as good, or even better, than the first.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Daredevil #7

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Matteo Buffagni

Matt Murdock just never gets it easy, does he? In this issue, we conclude the mini-arc featuring the return of Elektra, with her coming to ask Daredevil where her daughter is, a daughter that was completely unknown to us before now. The reason WHY it was unknown to us it made clear by the end of the issue, but what makes it great is the deadly dance that Daredevil and Elektra play, and how Daredevil must now tip toe around things now that people don't know who he us anymore. How he exactly changed everyone's memories hasn't been revealed yet, but what is clear is how much more difficult, in some ways, it's made his superhero life. Also making this issue interesting is the potential that Elektra's daughter may actually be Daredevil's daughter as well. It's an interesting question to pose, especially since it's one I can't remember the Daredevil comics really ever posing before. This, and a very poignant ending, make this issue a great one, especially for fans of this most recent season of the Daredevil Netflix series.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Justice League #50

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok

In this issue...well, a LOT happens, actually. As I've mentioned before, the only real fault of the Darkseid War storyline is that there's just been so much going on that it's hard to keep track of all of it. Now that we're at the tail end of it, though, it's largely all moving towards one end, so it's not too much mental gymnastics to keep up. In this final part of the Darkseid War, with all the JL members reunited, Grail returned, and with the Crime Syndcate's secret weapon ready, it's all down to a final battle between Grail and basically everyone else. Jason Fabok has rarely disappointed with this entire arc, and he fittingly turns in some great pages in this final chapter. On the writing side, there's moments where the buildup seemingly fell a bit short, with Grail's final master plot not really being all that impressive by the time she starts at it (she want's more power? Who'd have thought!). The real meat of the issue is with the other Justice League members. Everyone gets their payoff, particularly Lex Luthor and Jessica Cruz, who (as everyone could tell by all the DC Rebirth art) ends up a Green Lantern officially by issue's end. Wonder Woman also gets some very interesting setup for her upcoming Rebirth book, which I'm very excited to get to read. It's a spectacular issue, and I mean that in terms of literal spectacle. It's a marvel to look at, and while the writing may not be as high quality, it certainly gets the job done.

Tony's Score: 8/10

The Mighty Thor #7

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman & Rafa Garres

This month, we get the conclusion to an epic Viking story told in flashbacks by a nostalgic Loki. In this part, an arrogant Viking named Bodolf thinks himself mightier than the gods after Loki grants him great power, and eventually attracts the fury of Thor himself. It's a quick and dirty story, but it's a fun one, and one that brings in a unique art style with it. Though, at times, I find this new art style from Rafa Garres to be a bit too muddy. There were moments where I could hardly make out what was actually going on. Which is a shame, because this is a great example at how good at epics Jason Aaron is. He weaves a great tale around what is essentially a slugfest of an issue, and really paints a great picture of first century Viking culture. It's also interesting to see a story involving a pre-Mjolnir Thor, fighting long before he was worthy of his legendary hammer. It's a great story, one that is never fully explained what it has to do with the main story, but leaves its threads open for interpretation. What does this all mean? Why is Loki telling this story? That's for the reader to decipher. It's Aaron showing just how much faith he has in the reader to do their own thinking, and I applaud him for that. It's certainly something other writers could definitely learn from.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Paper Girls #6

Written by Bryan K. Vaughn
Art by Cliff Chiang

So, this is one of those Image books that you need to have read the rest of the issues to really understand it, and I do recommend reading 1-5 before this. The twist that comes in #1 is worth preserving. So that being said, SPOILERS FOR PAPER GIRLS. DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT READ #1-5.

Anyhow. Paper Girls is back, and the gang of paper girls is now stuck in the future. 2016 to be precise. This reads as more of a set-up book. With the story having reached something of a climax back in issue 5, the story is now setting up a new set of adventures in the future, albeit one's still tied to what came before. Probably the best part of this issue is seeing the past and future versions of Erin interacting with each other, as well as the 80's kids encountering the new technology. This is a gag that's usually kinda tired in these kind of stories, but for some reason, be it the clever writing from Vaughn or Chiang's distinctive style, it feels fresher than it would normally. This being a set-up, there's a few unexpected surprises, one of which (without spoiling things), shows that Vaughn plans on taking full advantage of the time travel aspect of this series, probably to eh benefit of the story and to the detriment of my brain once things start getting complicated (which is good). Overall, I'm excited to see this series continue. This is one of the most unique series that Image currently has going, and I'm very pleased to see it back for more, and I can't wait to see what Vaughn has in store for our plucky young paper girls.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Well, that'll do it for me this week. Sorry this one was so long, but I had a lot to cover. As always, let me know what your'e reading. What did you think of Rebirth? Are you excited about the DC Universe again? Or are you just gonna stick with Marvel? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll see you next week. 

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