THIS WEEK: With City Boy #1, we take a look at the newest edition to the wider DC Universe. Plus, we check back in with the new runs of Green Arrow and Unstoppable Doom Patrol!
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
City Boy #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Most folks who read superhero comics have heard the term “street-level hero,” generally used to describe heroes who fight crime that’s limited to a particular city or even neighborhood, including random muggings, criminal organizations, and usually some bad actor who knows at least a little bit of martial arts. It’s usually used to talk about heroes like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and maybe even your Batman-family of comics (though I recognize as I write this that the main Batman title has just wrapped up a jaunt through the multiverse).
Well, in this week’s City Boy #1, the creative team gets literal about the concept of a street-level hero, introducing us to Cameron Kirk, aka The City Boy. This title is part of DC’s ongoing We Are Legends initiative, which the publisher has described as a trio of new Asian-themed superhero concepts (the other two being Spirit World and The Vigil). City Boy’s powerset is that he can speak to cities, interacting with their infrastructure (streets included!), and doing things like finding lost gems or dollar bills. He can also sort of mold the city around him, causing brick walls or pavement to move or making animal companions out of scraps.
When we meet Cameron in City Boy #1, he’s just using his powers to get by, not really entertaining any notion of being a superhero (although we do see him being kind and generous and heroic on a micro level). In this first issue we get a tidy and interesting origin story, something that befits his powers and doesn’t feel overly-familiar. And we get him experiencing and ultimately answering a call to action. We get a solid main character, a cool new powers concept, and all the basics done right — we get a great new superhero debut comic.
So, yes, I liked City Boy #1 a lot (I always like a superhero who wears cool sneakers). It feels like a relatable power fantasy to anyone whose ever felt a certain excitement or charge while wandering through a major city. Writer Greg Pak consistently pens fun hero comics, be it about Superman, the (Totally Awesome) Hulk, or a class of Mech Cadets, and Minkyu Jung’s linework pairs very nice with Sunny Gho’s colors, which render the urban ecosystem here vividly, not falling into the too-gritty trap that can sometimes make street-level hero comics feel a bit dull. Finally, there’s a lot of captions in this one, and letterer Wes Abbott places them well, delivering a nice pacing and flow to the book.
There’s a last panel cliffhanger reveal in this one that teases the New Gods, which paired with the solicit copy really makes you wonder if City Boy isn’t headed to new cities as well as other ecosystems that function similar to a city, so we can see his interesting powers at work outside of this initial setting of Metropolis. All in all, I highly recommend this one, as solid as a new superhero debut as I’ve read in a good while.
- In Green Arrow #2, the creative team of Josh Williamson, Sean Izaakse, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Troy Peteri continue what they started last month, broadening this out into a true family affair, focused on not just Oliver Queen, but Black Canary, Roy Harper, Connor Hawke, and co. I don’t really have much to add past what I wrote about this book last month, other than to note that Izaakse and Fajardo Jr. are just a great fit for a Green Arrow comic. Roy Harper especially looks great in this one, although old-man Ollie (is that redundant? he’s been at his best as an old man for a good while now, but I digress…). Anyway, I’m really enjoying their work on this comic and remain glad it got expanded from six to 12 issues..
- Speaking of things I enjoyed, Nightwing #104 was a fantastic issue that could almost standalone as just a great, one-and-done superhero book. The central theme is familiar enough: Dick Grayson gets superpowers from the devil (or, essentially, a devilish stand-in), and gets to use them for a little while to see how much good he can accomplish. He then has to choose between giving up those powers or letting the devil have one little girl’s soul. Familiar, maybe, but it’s still fun and in-keeping with the themes of this particular run, so it works for me. The meme-homage cover (see at left) is a bit preening — keep that stuff to variants, please — but what are you going to do? This issue is by Tom Taylor, Travis Moore, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott.
- Finally, Unstoppable Doom Patrol #3 is another great issue for that run, one that sees members of the the titular team tangling with a pair of green lanterns, namely Kyle Raynor and Guy Gardner. This remains one of the best–looking superhero comics, and there’s also multiple callbacks to the Grant Morrison, Richard Case Doom Patrol, which is high on my personal list of all-time favorite superhero comics. This one is by the creative team of Dennis Culver, Chris Burnham, Brian Reber, and Pat Brosseau.
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