Here we go, it’s the final week! Let’s cut straight to the chase and talk DC’s Week 4 of their “DC You” initiative.
After last week, I’m feeling pretty good, and ready to read! What do they have in store for me?
Side-note: my LCS didn’t get Teen Titans this week, so it is omitted from this list. I didn’t want to buy it anyway, to be honest.
Aquaman #41: My second shot with a Cullen Bunn book after Lobo landed with a thud. The last time I tried this Aquaman title was when Jeff Parker was on board, and I had trouble getting into even then, and I often enjoy Parker’s writing. Conceptually, Bunn is doing something interesting: the usage of a flashback-dual narrative structure isn’t new but it remains somewhat enticing, though the idea of it probably grabbed me more than the story itself. I don’t think Bunn is a particularly gifted dialogue writer, and I still generally find Aquaman mostly a bore, but if it keeps up this format, I’ll be down for another issue maybe….maybe. I’m at least curious to see if both threads pick up steam, provided that they continue to exist and it wasn’t just a first issue thing (I’ve read no interviews to know either way). There’s a bit of this new Aquaman tonally that also somewhat reminds of Kurt Busiek‘s far too short-lived Conan inspired run. I like that, on the other hand Trevor McCarthy‘s art was rather messy, and somewhat unclear, reminding me a bit of his rushed Batwoman arc where he took over for Amy Reeder.
Verdict: On the fence
Batgirl #41: I legitimately think Batgirl gets better every single issue, which for a mainstream superhero comic, is a pretty rare feat. This installment was another winner and provided one of the best looks at the new Batman status quo, while still relaying a “big” story through the lens of what Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr have laid down from the beginning of their run. Also of note, this is the first issue that Stewart did not provide layouts for Tarr, so what we get here, and in subsequent issues to come, is all Tarr. There’s one moment of male gaze that’s probably going to catch some ire, and it’s a weird miscalculation. But outside of that one panel, I’m a big big big fan.
Deathstroke #7: Yikes, what a disaster this book is. Sub-Image 90’s garbage. To add insult to injury, Hephaestus is completely out of character from how he was presented in the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman run, one of the best New 52 launch titles. This book is representative of the kind of stuff that people accused the New 52 of being: obsessed with EXTREME storytelling. Tony Daniel is a gifted artist, and at times (“Batman R.I.P.”) produces really nice looking work, but as a writer…well, at least he’s relegated to a book I don’t care about at all, and have no reason to at this point.
Verdict: Stopping here
The Flash #41: Good lord, the exposition! It had been a minute since I’d read a Robert Venditti–Van Jensen co-written comic, but wow, was this an awkward read! I’m not sure if previous issues of their run tried as hard to tie into The Flash television series, but they’re really bending over backwards here to shoe-horn in not only the “father wrongly imprisoned” subplot, but also a Joe West stand-in. Brett Booth, who I am decidedly not a fan of, doesn’t help much, but the painfully overwritten narration and dialogue isn’t his fault. Perhaps for those who have been reading this run regularly, this issue pays off better, but I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not.
Verdict: Stopping here
Gotham By Midnight #6: A decent read, and I think Juan Ferreya makes for a slightly clearer if somewhat duller artist for this “supernatural side of Gotham” series than Ben Templesmith. Ray Fawkes, whose creator-owned work I generally enjoy, really hasn’t quite grabbed me during his DC tenure and this issue doesn’t do much to change that. This is basically a book I like more in theory than in actual execution, having tried a couple of different issues at this point. I want to like a Jim Corrigan/Spectre series so badly, but I’m just not sure this is ever going to be a book that scratches that itch for me. I sure liked the ghostly imagery though!
Verdict: Stopping here
Grayson #9: Remember how much I liked Batgirl this week? I think I liked Grayson even more. I know I go on and on about it, but the Tom King scripted issues of this series are absolutely some of the best adventure comics DC has released in years. From the hilarious opening bit that takes a different angle on the first issue’s train sequence, to the introduction of a new cabal of spies that has pretty big ramifications to DC’s larger espionage picture, to more tongue in cheek moments between Dick and Agent 1, this is basically the DC comic that I never knew I needed in my life. Now that I have it, I never want to let it go. I’m also glad to see Mikel Janin on a book better suited to his talents, as King gives him some wonderfully cinematic moments here. That two-page spread of the necklace heist was my favorite action beat of the week.
Verdict: Already on my pull-list and staying there
Green Lantern: Lost Army #1: Now here was a surprise! I really don’t care about Green Lantern much at all, and I generally checked out of the character about a year into Geoff Johns‘ New 52 run. I’ve dabbled here and there since, but I’ve never felt much of an urge to return. Even this month’s opening chapter to the “Renegade” storyline only somewhat intrigued me enough to probably pick up next month’s offering. Here, Cullen Bunn does the flashback thing again, but it works a good deal better this time, playing with the story tropes of LOST (which in turn was riffing on Watchmen). These “stranded in an unknown galaxy” stories can either go really well (Legion Lost) or really badly (Star Trek: Voyager), but Bunn has produced a solid enough cast to start out with, that I think this is a title with stronger promise than anything else he’s working on right now. It’s nice to be excited about a Green Lantern book again, and if they can capture the wonder and unknowns of space exploration, this’ll be one to keep an eye on. I already somewhat think that’s the case already.
Verdict: Going onto the pull-list
Justice League 3001 #1: Totally impenetrable, good Howard Porter art though. I really don’t have much to add here, as I find this book about as shrug-worthy as I did when I picked up the first three issues of Justice League 3000. I just don’t think it’s a strong enough title for me to tough out its learning curve, and this new Justice League simply doesn’t engage me at all.
Verdict: Stopping here
Superman #41: Good, though maybe a little stiff, as I’m finding many of the recent better DC runs’ first issues have been. I’m fascinated by how this story gets to where Superman is in Action Comics, and I think Gene Luen Yang is going somewhere cool with the character. I especially like just how human Clark is when faced with a threat that his powers can’t do anything about. You can’t solve everything with your fists, and that sort of existential crisis is just the kind of tale that can get me re-engaged with Superman again. For the first time in a long time, DC has two worthwhile Superman titles, I’m very glad to see it.
Verdict: Going to the pull-list
We Are…Robin #1: Badly conceived teenage dialogue masks what could have been a pretty enjoyable read. I like the fact that Duke Thomas is the star of the book, but I found everything that came out of the character’s mouth to be cringe-worthy. I bet if you took the dialogue balloons away, you’d have a pretty enjoyable tale of teenage rebellion in the face of a city-wide catastrophe. It’s amazing how badly one aspect of a story can drag the whole thing down, but there it is. How funny is it that 58 year old Paul Levitz can better capture that youthful voice than not-even-40 Lee Bermejo was able to?
Verdict: Stopping here
So that’s it! I’m done! What did I think of the DC You launch month on the whole? The Batman line is stronger than ever, with a number of great titles under its belt, Superman is off to a cracking start, both Justice League books are pretty enjoyable and DC’s has a number of titles on the fringe that are must-reads. I’d say on the whole, DC’s commitment to creator vision this time around has led them to a much more successful launch than the New 52. Will sales show it? Who knows, but I sure had a great time reading these books (for the most part) and I’m so glad that I’m finally re-energized about DC Comics again.
The Essential New Titles: Black Canary, Constantine: The Hellblazer, Doctor Fate, Green Lantern: Lost Army, JLA, Midnighter, The Omega Men, Prez, and Starfire.
And, of course if you’re not already reading Batgirl, Grayson, or Gotham Academy, you’re really missing out.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey!
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.