THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes for a roundtable discussion of notable new DC Comics titles including One-Star Squadron #1, World of Krypton #1, and Batman #118.
(A Note About Spoilers: The following discussion contains mild spoilers for the titles being covered. For a spoiler-free verdict on each title, scroll to the end of its respective section of the discussion.)
ZACK QUAINTANCE: Hey team! Another bountiful week of DC Comics is upon us with a couple of high-profile, long-awaited (at least by us) releases. So, I’m going to just dive right in to it…what did we think of One-Star Squadron #1?
CORI MCCREERY: Honestly a bit mixed on the first issue. Lieber’s art was the main draw for me, and I think he was phenomenal as always, but I think I’m not as sold on the concept as I wanted to be?
GREG SILBER: I really enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for stories about Z-list superheroes with existential crises about living in the same universe as heavy hitters like Batman and Superman. This first issue is less funny than I expected from the creative team, but made up for it with surprising emotional weight and some compelling twists.
JOE GRUNENWALD: Mark Russell and Steve Lieber are a dream creative team in my book, and I was really looking forward to the debut of this series. For me it did not disappoint – it made me laugh out loud multiple times, and it also did some really enjoyable, thoughtful character work.
ZACK: I enjoyed it quite a bit, too.
CORI: I think my biggest problem was how off Power Girl felt as a character. I get that he needed someone to fill that role, but something just felt off with her to me.
ZACK: I thought it was all in great fun, and after reading it twice found myself catching subtle jokes I’d missed the first time through, which gave me the same feeling I had during Lieber’s last DC project, Jimmy Olsen.
ZACK: Specifically, the old timey street gang bit, where the guy was called Sugar Pop, referencing that odd moment in Biden’s campaign where he said something similar.
JOE: Wow, that’s incredibly subtle.
GREG: Yeah that was hilarious in a very specific way that I don’t expect from DC.
ZACK: I dug it, it seemed like such a natural melding between Russell’s satirical wit and Lieber’s gag a minute clever cartooning.
JOE: Re: Power Girl’s characterization, I don’t have a ton of experience with her outside of Geoff Johns-written projects, so I don’t know what she’s actually like. That said I can see your argument, Cori, about her playing the ‘villain’ role of the series, if that is indeed what she’s doing.
JOE: Hopefully this doesn’t end up being her Heroes in Crisis.
GREG: I strongly suspect we’re getting set up for a bait and switch here for PG.
ZACK: I will go out on a limb here and guess the REAL villain will ultimately be capitalism.
CORI: It’s also very clear that this book is well outside of continuity, so that’s something. Max Lord having a self-help book and just the use of Gangbuster like this at all kind of make that clear.
GREG: Is it outside continuity? I didn’t make that assumption.
JOE: Could Max Lord be mind-controlling her? It could account for her out-of-character behavior.
CORI: Well considering a younger healthier Gangbuster was just in Superman backups and Max is still in jail after Wonder Woman, that’s the implication I took.
JOE: Zack, I think you’re on to something there about who the real villain of the series is.
ZACK: It’s a bold prediction, I know.
JOE: I joked about Heroes in Crisis earlier, but I actually felt like this book is exploring some similar themes about trauma and community, but in a much more humane way than that series did.
GREG: I think that’s a great way to describe it.
ZACK: This book had a whole lot of heart.
ZACK: The panel where Gangbuster looks back and says “goodbye” was so heartrending.
CORI: Yeah, that I liked.
GREG: It pokes fun at its characters but doesn’t have contempt for them, which is key.
CORI: It also reminded me that before he was known for comedy, Lieber was known for emotion. A lot of this felt like Superman #174, which he also did. That issue focused on Clark doing what he could to not think about the fact that his parents were missing after the Imperiex conflict.
GREG: That’s a great point. And it’s really what endeared me to this book most. Come for the comedy, stay for the character drama.
ZACK: A lot of my favorite comedy comes from coping with trauma and difficulties, finding absurdities within the world just absolutely breaking your heart, and that’s part of why this book worked so well for me. I was kind of being cheeky before, but the real villain of this book really does seem to be the larger economic systems that have forced actual heroes to resort to doing what we see them doing here. And the creative team does such a good job finding emotional depth within that, being able to spend some time laughing at a situation where otherwise your only choice is to cry.
JOE: Extremely well-put, Zack.
GREG: Like I said at the top, I’m a sucker for this kind of story. I think it’s shaping up to be something special.
ZACK: So yeah, this one is a BUY for me.
GREG: BUY for me as well.
CORI: I’m gonna go with a BROWSE because it hasn’t fully won me over yet, but I’m willing to see where it goes.
JOE: And an enthusiastic BUY from me.
JOE: I was pleasantly surprised at how into that first issue I was.
GREG: Definitely not relevant to anything currently going on in the world, I know that for sure.
GREG: This is sarcasm, internet.
GREG: Seriously though, this story has been told in so many ways so many times, but I was surprised by how into it I was too.
JOE: Unfortunately I think a story about scientists warning about a coming extinction event and having their words fall on deaf ears will never not be relevant to the world we live in.
CORI: Okay, now this issue got me from the word go. I really enjoyed the first issue of third World of Krypton mini-series. I think Venditti did a great job of building a new version of Krypton that still felt respectful to previous versions.
CORI: And I’m always here for Kal’s evil cousin Kru who has the most on the nose Silver Age name of all time.
ZACK: I think we’ll have a spoiler warning on this (as always), so I’ll just say it — the family drama twist at the end was my favorite part of this book, right up there with Oeming’s artwork. Also, I just finished watching this week’s Succession, which feels relevant.
JOE: I had never heard of Kru-El before but immediately fell in love with him based solely on the strength of his name.
GREG: I want to know everything about Kru-El now. What a glorious pun.
ZACK: It’s fantastic.
JOE: I definitely got shades of Succession and also of Game of Thrones from how things went down in this issue.
JOE: A political family drama on Krypton is right up my alley.
CORI: He was one of the Pre-Crisis Phantom Zone prisoners and loved to heckle his family.
JOE: Ahhh, he was Roman Roy.
ZACK: I came in expecting all the political drama but the added layer of family drama was a really great surprise for me. Also, great comparison, Joe.
GREG: I’m worried this might get ignored by a lot of fans because of how familiar the premise is.
JOE: I feel like Michael Avon Oeming’s artwork has leveled up with his recent DC work on Midnighter and now this series. Nick Filardi’s colors are also a really nice complement to the lineart, and go a long way toward making the book feel otherworldly.
CORI: Yeah the art team felt like a great pairing to explore an advanced alien civilization, I thought.
GREG: It’s not a look I’d expect for this book, but they’re excellent creators who work super well together.
ZACK: I don’t know that I have anything more to add about this one. It’s a really straightforward, almost classic feeling Krypton story that’s done well on every level, from the interesting art to the great layered conflict and drama.
CORI: I’m very clearly a BUY for the one notable book featuring Kara Zor-El being published right now.
JOE: Her best appearance in ages! No dialogue!
JOE: (That one’s for you, Ernesto!)
ZACK: I’m a BUY as well.
GREG: A genuinely unexpected BUY from me too.
JOE: It’s a BUY for me as well. I think even if you’re not that into Superman there’s still a lot to enjoy about this book so far.
JOE: This. Book. Slaps.
GREG: I liked it, then Batman Incorporated appeared, and I loved it.
CORI: Honestly, more into it than I thought I’d be? Williamson had huge shoes to fill, and did so in an unexpectedly fun way that also did a good job of referencing what’s come before him.
ZACK: I had fun with it, but it felt a little weird to me at first. It kind of felt like we were getting the fun, celebratory end-of-run issue that James Tynion didn’t quiet have time to do on his run for about the first 1/3 of this comic.
JOE: It definitely felt like a transition issue, but it was so entertaining overall that I didn’t mind it. I loved that opening celebration as a way to tie Williamson’s new run to Tynion’s, and then, as Greg mentioned, Batman Inc. comes into things and it just takes off in its own direction.
ZACK: I do appreciate the connective tissue there.
CORI: I also loved that once Batman Inc. showed up Bruce was like “Well time to dust the moth balls off of this costume.”
GREG: I don’t think I’ve talked about this much, even privately with all of you, but I LOVE Batman Incorporated. That original Grant Morrison run was one of the first Batman comics I really fell in love with, and I just adore the concept of international Batmen from around the world.
ZACK: I definitely knew that.
JOE: I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned liking a comic by Grant Morrison, Greg, so this is news to me.
JOE: (That’s sarcasm, internet.)
CORI: What are you talking about Greg, you never shut up about your love for Morrison Batman. (Also sarcasm, internet)
GREG: I will not stand to be bullied for my undying love of Grant Morrison’s Batman. In any event, I just like to remind readers.
JOE: Batman Inc. is the latest Morrison thread that Williamson has been the first to pick up on, though, along with Justice Incarnate and a lot of stuff from Multiversity.
ZACK: I’m glad you’re being sincere here Greg, even if it means taking an unpopular stance like liking Grant Morrison’s Batman (that’s sarcasm again, Internet…wow, internet really taking shots in this chat).
JOE: Batman Inc. is such a rich concept, and the twist at the end of the issue is so great.
GREG: Honestly, the internet deserves it.
CORI: (That’s not sarcasm, internet)
ZACK: IN ANDY DALY FROM REVIEW VOICE: The internet…half a star
CORI: I did really like the twist at the end, because that character’s been largely absent for the past year or so in comics, and it’s nice to see them return.
GREG: I love the art here too. Jorge Molina is a great fit with Tomeu Morey’s colors, and I feel like Mikel Janin is trying something new here, stylistically.
ZACK: We’ve got that spoiler warning so we can just say it, Lex was a great reveal here.
GREG: Hell yeah.
ZACK: There’s also, we should note, a double dose of Lex this week with the Superman Son of Kal-El annual serving up a new Lex story, too.
ZACK: I’ve always enjoyed Lex vs. Batman stories, and that really got my excited to see where this is all headed.
GREG: He might be DC’s best villain, so I’m always down for more Lex.
ZACK: He’s my favorite comic book villain.
CORI: Wow, Greg with the bold takes today.
GREG: Cori, was that sarcasm?
ZACK: The internet needs to know.
CORI: (That was sarcasm, internet)
JOE: I can’t keep up with all of the shots being fired at the internet and each other today.
GREG: I’m enjoying our new catchphrase.
ZACK: Slow Joe has entered the chat.
CORI: We’re a feisty bunch tonight.
JOE: (Slow Joey!)
ZACK: (Slowseph Joseph!)
CORI: New Flash villain right here.
ZACK: OKAY! Enough chaos. Where are we at verdict-wise on Batman #118?
JOE: I like Batman. Is that a hot take?
CORI: I very much enjoyed Batman. It’s a BUY from me as well.
GREG: BUY! Batman is great. This Batman comic is great. You should read it.
JOE: This one’s a Buy for me as well. Williamson’s on a roll and this issue continues that hot streak as far as I’m concerned.
ZACK: I’ll also go BUY…all good things in this one.
GREG: It pretty much gave me everything I could possibly want in a Batman first issue, minus his dog.
ZACK: If nobody has anything else to add, thanks everyone, oh, and no apologies, internet, get over it.
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