THIS WEEK: The proper Round-Up team returns to discuss the debut of War for Earth-3, the finale of Justice League Incarnate, and the return of The Nice House on the Lake.
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 verdicts.
War for Earth-3 #1
Suicide Squad #13
Writers: Robbie Thompson & Dennis Hopeless
Artists: (War for Earth-3 #1) Steve Pugh, Dexter Soy, & Brent Peeples; (Suicide Squad #13) Eduardo Pansica & Júlio Ferreira & Dexter Soy
Color Artists: (War for Earth-3 #1) Steve Herms; (Suicide Squad #13) Marcelo Maiolo
Letterers: (War for Earth-3 #1) Josh Reed, Travis Lanham, and Simon Bowland; (Suicide Squad #13) Wes Abbott
Cover Artists: Rafa Sandoval & Alex Sinclair
Zack Quaintance: Hey team! Welcome back to another one of our Very Famous DC Round-Up Round Tables…I’d like to start this week with a crossover event that feels a little under the radar…so, what did everyone think of War For Earth-3 #1?
Cori McCreery: Honestly, this Suicide Squad run has been much more fun than I expected it to be, and this crossover is no exception to that.
Joe Grunenwald: Agreed there, Cori. I’ve never been particularly interested in the Suicide Squad, but this run beginning with the Future State two-parter has been incredibly fun. The multiversal angle is just icing on the cake for me, and War for Earth-3 #1 brings it all together in a really entertaining fashion.
Quaintance: Both of those answers sort of address my next question, but I think I’ll go with it anyway: what sort of expectations did we have for this event going in?
Grunenwald: I kind of expected an all-out action fest, which is..basically what we got. A group of villains fighting an evil Justice League? I’m sure there’s room for plot in there but honestly who needs it, I just want to see them beat each other up.
McCreery: Yeah same, just a big ol’ slugfest. BUT, what I didn’t expect was how fleshed out this version of the Crime Syndicate was. God, the personality of Superwoman alone was just incredible, in both voice and in the face acting.
Quaintance: Superwoman was definitely the MVP in terms of characters making this book a very good time.
Grunenwald: It is a nice continuation of the intro we got for them in the Crime Syndicate miniseries. I’ve had a soft sport for the Crime Syndicate since I was a kid – I’ve generally always liked evil doppelgängers for superheroes – so a storyline centered on them is right up my alley. I also appreciate how fleshed out the characters are, and how different they are from their Earth-0 counterparts.
Quaintance: I was fairly surprised it referenced the earlier Crime Syndicate miniseries in any noticeable way, though I appreciated it. Feels like for some time now, every new appearance of the Crime Syndicate has just been some kind of reset, or right back to how you might expect to find them. Nice bit of continuity there.
McCreery: Yeah, but really that’s one of the things I’m really enjoying about current era DC. It’s using mini-series to build into bigger things. We saw it with Aquaman, we saw it with Nubia, and now we’re seeing it with the CSA.
Quaintance: Hear hear!
Grunenwald: I’ve lately been thinking about DC’s old “fifth week events” – one-week special event stories that they put out on the last week of months that had five weeks – and reading War for Earth-3 #1 and this week’s issue of Suicide Squad felt like kind of a nice throwback to that. If they’d had it all come out in one week with The Flash and Teen Titans Academy, it would’ve been even better. I’m interested to see how those two titles get pulled into the story as well.
McCreery: I just hope those two books can maintain the quality bar that this started. Flash I have a bit of faith in, but not Teen Titans Academy.
Grunenwald: Maybe Teen Titans Academy will introduce the Red X of Earth-3.
Quaintance: I was just saying the other day that that book should introduce even more Red Xs. I know rationally you’re not supposed to throw your superhero comics ideas out there for legal reasons and all, but I’m going to do it anyway…that book should reveal that everyone was Red X all along. The last page of the final issue should be a mirror like the Time Magazine where we were all person of the year.
Grunenwald: Real Murder on the Orient Express situation.
McCreery: Wow spoilers Joe.
Grunenwald: That book came out in 1934, Cori.
Justice League Incarnate #5
Writers: Joshua Williamson & Dennis Culver
Artists: Andrei Bressan and Jesús Merino
Color Artist: HiFi
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artists: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson
Quaintance: Let’s try to move past this and keep going with multiversal hijinks here…this week also saw Justice League Incarnate #5 come out, ending that series before this summer’s big event. General thoughts on that finale and the rest of Justice League Incarnate?
McCreery: It kind of sputtered out at the end, I thought. In this case it’s a mini-series leading into another mini-series, and that just seems anti-climactic?
Grunenwald: I’ve been waiting for a Justice Incarnate-centric series since the ending of The Multiversity, so I was extra-on-board for this book, but I also ended up kind of agreeing with Cori. It was solid, but it was less of a romp through the multiverse than I expected it to be, and ultimately it ended up feeling like just setup for Dark Crisis and not a satisfying story on its own. That said, of everything that happened the things I’m most interested in are the goings-on with the New Gods and Orion’s new position.
McCreery: Yeah, really interesting to see Darkseid get taken off the table just like Barry did.
Quaintance: That was the big thing it felt like all five of these issues were designed to do, and with that in mind, I think there was a bit of bloat with this mini as a whole, a little treading water and taking the long road (should I mix another travel metaphor?) to get where it knew it would end all along.
McCreery: Also Barry’s still off the table, suck it silver age fans.
Grunenwald: We’re all better off. That guy’s the worst.
McCreery: You heard it here, Joe hates the Flash.
Grunenwald: I really want to know more about how Pariah ended up a servant of The Great Darkness.
Quaintance: I’m definitely interested in what’s coming next from this story. I feel like Death of Justice League (which is the teased direct continuation at the end of this one) will have an unexpected conceit that will sort of reframe Dark Crisis in surprising ways. And I like that I don’t have any good guesses what it is.
McCreery: I wonder if this is the Great Darkness Bendis was building towards or if it’s a too bad, so sad, first come first serve situation.
Quaintance: Three years ago, I’d say no way they are connected, but now I’m not so sure. There’s not a lot of dangling plot threads so far in this new editorial era.
Grunenwald: I hope once all is said and done that we get to see some continuing adventures for Justice League Incarnate as well. It’s such a great concept. The joy of the multiverse is the limitless possibility, after all.
McCreery: Anyway I’d say War For Earth-3 and Suicide Squad were BUYs from me while Justice League Incarnate is a BROWSE.
Quaintance: That’s actually where I land on them as well, BUYs for War on Earth-3 and Suicide Squad, but just a BROWSE for Justice League Incarnate
McCreery: We totally didn’t forget to rate the first books before moving onto the third, that was completely intentional, yessirree.
Quaintance: Sure didn’t…definitely we’re talking about that outside the chat or anything.
Grunenwald: Is it annoying if I agree with those verdicts as well? Because I do. War for Earth-3 and Suicide Squad are an easy BUY, and Justice League Incarnate is a BROWSE. I suppose I’ve never worried about being annoying before so why start now.
McCreery: I was about to ask, Joe.
Quaintance: I’m sure they’ll let you know in the comments if it is!
Grunenwald: They certainly weren’t shy about it last week!
The Nice House on the Lake #7
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Cover Artist: Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Quaintance: Anyway! On to our third and final book of the evening. This week marks a return for one of our collective favorite books, the Black Label series The Nice House On The Lake. I’m going to be honest here, I needed a refresher on where the series left us and who some of the characters were. How did you both find re-entering this series to be? Was it pretty smooth for either of you?
McCreery: Zack doesn’t know how to count because this is definitely the fourth book we’ve talked about. But agreed with you on the refresher. I think I need to sit back down with the first six issues again because this book is just so dense (in a good way). But I also think this issue was intentionally a bit confusing, to set us on our heels a bit and really play with the established narrative.
Grunenwald: I could definitely have used a recap page at the beginning, but once I did remember who everyone was and where the sixth issue left them I got really into this issue. It’s definitely confusing on purpose, raising even more new questions and setting up new conflicts. It’s not the place to jump on, but it’s a great place to come back to.
Quaintance: I read #5 and #6, and I was good to go…but yes, I agree on the intentional confusion. And I think it’s a really interesting choice to be deliberately disorienting. If this book is — as I’ve been theorizing — built around a metaphor related to surviving the pandemic (or any other global catastrophe) in relative comfort, you almost have to make the choice, to make time same-y and wash away memory of what things were like and how you got where you are.
McCreery: I just really love the depth of the horror story that James Tynion IV is telling in this book, and Álvaro Martínez Bueno is doing a masterclass on setting the mood with creepy art. Also, the extremely well done black screaming into the void pages were just incredible. Especially as they brought things into more and more focus.
Grunenwald: I loved those pages, and I appreciated Norah, a character I’ve been interested in from the beginning but who hasn’t gotten much of a spotlight, being the focal point of those pages. The interaction between her and Walter toward the end of the issue is fascinating. I also really appreciate getting to spend some time with Walter and getting a chance to know him beyond the flashback scenes. Even if he’s playing a role it’s still interesting to learn about him in that way.
McCreery: Surprising nobody, Norah is my favorite and you’re right, I love that this issue really fleshed her out and gave her a lot of substance that she’d been missing.
Quaintance: That was my other main question about this book. I was wondering if either of you had questions or theories about Walter? Just generally speaking. I want to hear any and every theory about Walter…
Grunenwald: I still have absolutely no idea what Walter’s deal is.
McCreery: Shoot, I really don’t know. Some sort of eldritch horror, but that’s all I really got.
Quaintance: Some sort of eldritch horror is where I’m at with it, possibly cosmic.
Grunenwald: He feels like a character out of The Twilight Zone in the best way. I want to take a moment to heap praise upon MartÍnez Bueno and Jordie Bellaire. We’ve talked before about how beautiful this book is, but it’s worth saying again that this book is totally gorgeous.
McCreery: Yeah I said above that I really like how creepy MartÍnez Bueno is able to make everything, even things that shouldn’t maybe be so creepy. And Bellaire is a big part of that with the color palette, especially all the unsettling warm tones.
Quaintance: It’s an absolutely gorgeous comic.
Grunenwald: Those all-black pages that you mentioned earlier are an incredible synergy of the entire creative team, including the lettering from Andworld Design.
McCreery: God the giant “FUCK!” on the second to last one was just brilliant.
Grunenwald: I can see the pull-quote now. “Brilliant ‘FUCK!'” – Cori McCreery
McCreery: It would go well with my only other pull-quote.
Grunenwald: “Excellent ‘SHIT!'” – Cori McCreery (Zack please rein us in)
McCreery: “I was not expecting full-on peens.” – Cori McCreery (the real pull-quote).
Quaintance: Well then! That seems like definitely a note to end on.
Grunenwald: BUY for Nice House on the Lake #7 from me! With the caveat that you should buy the first six issue as well.
McCreery: Honestly, I’m just happy to have this book back. A definite BUY from me.
Quaintance: And a BUY for me as well. Also, the trade of the first volume is out this Wednesday too. Until next week, everyone!
Grunenwald: I hope your house by the lake is nice!
McCreery: And your friend Walter too.
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