Justice League United
I’m a sucker for a gathering of the team tale, so this original eight-pager is right up my alley. It’s mostly heroes and villains responding to the request of JLU members Alanna Strange, Stargirl, Animal Man and Equinox to help plug some holes. In reality. It seems that the Convergence – hey look at that, heroes actually knowing there’s been a universal rewrite – has left dangerous cosmic anomalies ‘everywhere’. The vignettes are cute, with new series writer Jeff Parker, as ever, emphasing the fun to be found in superhero books. And his Demon rhyming is good, too.
The bit that’s not ‘mostly’? Adam Strange, on a bit of a sticky wicket…
Travel Foreman’s take on the characters – everyone from the long-missing Firestorm to the ever-present Luthor – is fascinating, while Jeromy Cox takes advantage of the varied locales to go wild with the colour box … just look at the attention to lighting in the Batgirl panel.
My guess is that this series is going to be a kind of Justice League Task Force Meets Exiles. My better guess is that Jeff Parker and friends plan to better even that enticing prospect.
In common with the Justice League and Superman Sneak Peeks, we’ve already seen this short in the Free Comic Book Day Divergence book. It’s Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo preparing us for the official debut of Jim Gordon as Batman, the Caped Crusader having died alongside the Joker in Endgame. So just pretend you don’t see Crutches Guy and Robin Jacket Chum, in a panel reused from the penultimate page of Batman #40. The story does a good job in terms of introducing the new set-up – a Batman who’s the product of an alliance between the GCPD and a big corporation – but I’m profoundly uninterested in a mecha-Batman who’s not even Bruce Wayne, and as for Gordon’s haircut, yikes. Snyder and Capullo are a brilliant/writer artist team, so I don’t doubt this will be good; I’m just not sure it’s for me.
We are teenagers. We fight crime. With text messages.
OK, not quite, but the kid vigilantes in this preview do spend the whole story texting, trying to organise themselves to help one of their number who’s spotted some baddies with big guns. The only one we get a decent look at prior to the last page goes by the codename R-Iko, while we get ‘stolen looks’ at the others. As a narrative device, the text talk is distancing, unengaging; if that’s going to be the series’ calling card I won’t be able to get through a single issue. Plus, writer Lee Bermejo gives us some kind of organising texter, The Nest, who sends melodramatic notes setting out their store. ‘We are not punks’ ‘We are not bullies’. You know where it’s going … I may be going elsewhere, despite the likeable, dynamic art of Jorge Corona, working to Rob Haynes’ breakdowns. Am I too old for this? If younger readers embrace it, great, but at the moment I Am Moving On.
We are Harley! Harley is going legit, organising a gang of Harley homages to fight crime. They plan to charge, but the poor or people in dire need get a freebie. Here, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, along with artist Chad Hardin, colourist Alex Sinclair and letterer John J Hill, welcome us to the meeting at which Harley hands out their superhero names. And it’s the proverbial hoot.
I can’t wait to see which one’s evil. Because one’s bound to be evil, right? Probably Holly, aka Coach (why not Holly Quinn?), whose role it is to organise missions. As a red-headed wheelchair user, she evokes the Barbara Gordon Oracle, and she’s similarly handy with a stick. In her case it’s not escrima sticks, but a white stick – she’s vision impaired too, like all the best oracles. Yeah, she’s going to subvert expectations. Then again, I’m expecting now, so she’ll be good after all… blimey, I’m already engaged, thanks to the amusing script and lovely, liquid linework. Buy.
Aha, the Sinestro Corps definitely has a traitor. The man himself tells us so as he narrates a rescue mission on a refugee world being run by old JLA foe Kanjar Ro. Sinestro’s people, the Korugarians, are holed up their after the loss of their world, and Kanjo Ro has popped up to terrorise them – but when it comes to using fear as a tactic, he has nothing on Sinestro. The encounter gives us a chance to meet the corps, and as a lapsed Green Lantern reader, I’m intrigued to find their number now includes his daughter, Dr Green Lantern. I like that woman. This is huge fun as writer Colin Bunn, penciller Brad Walker and inker Andrew Hennessy giving us an intriguing, good-looking mix of characters and a good, clear recap of where we are. Worth a look.
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. It’s the Truth storyline again, with Superman apparently desperate enough to get back to full strength to beat up concerned pal Barry Allen, steal a JLA spaceship and fly towards the sun in the hope of a recharge. But Wonder Woman is on the case, in a spaceship of her own, and she’s going to distract him with a Wonder-Snog because … I don’t know, actually, maybe she doesn’t think he’d survive. Or maybe she needs him to join her in an intervention centred on Barry’s hideous new costume. There’s a shocking final page assertion from Clark that he doesn’t love Diana anymore – that may be down to her own new look – but I don’t believe it. We couldn’t be that lucky
And I don’t believe I’ll be following this book if this is the tone we’ll be getting from writer Peter J Tomasi. Amusingly cranky Clark, yes. Deceitful, bad friend Clark? No thanks. The art from Paulo Siquiera is luscious, as he nails Tomasi’s script – there’s a moment with a JLA conference room chair that speaks to Superman’s state of mind. So I’ve no complaints about the craft, it’s just that I don’t want to read about a Superman so desperate that instead of turning to his friends for help, he assaults them. And as for all that blood dripping off Superman, I was hoping the end of the New 52 would see an end to all that.
There’s a new Professor Zoom and he’s taking his villainous protégés through a day in the life of Barry Allen. We see Barry in his new living situation, staying with the former Pied Piper and his boyfriend, who happens to be Barry’s grumpy boss, David Singh. We watch Barry at the crime lab, be a tad mean to almost-Dad Darryl Frye, and take out a rubbish super-villain. And if we look hard, we see Zoom lurking in the background or foreground. This is good, work from writer Van Jensen, penciller Brett Booth and inker Norm Rapmund, the sharp script and scratchily effective art making for a better than decent primer. But Barry suddenly looking like a blond Grant Gustin, his jailed Dad all John Wesley Shipp – it’s very distracting and hardly necessary. I hope the actors put in a demand for a use-of-likeness fee…
As for the arrival of a second Reverse-Flash, I could do without it; the Flash series has gone to the Bad Speedster well so many times – we’ve only just finished a far-too-long storyline involving a murderous future Barry Allen. Time to change the record.
Earth 2 Society
It’s one year on from the end of the Convergence mini-series and the heroes of the former Earth 2 have been trying to build a new world for the two million inhabitants who escaped the doom of Darkseid. But there’s been a schism. Helena Wayne, the Huntress, has a machine that can, it seems, transform the planet into a duplicate of the world they lost. Oliver Queen is at her side, but the rest of the heroes think she has no right to change the world. Which makes no sense, given they’re on a planet which has only been in its current form for 12 months, having been terraformed after the Convergence business. But apparently it’s a Bad Thing, so Alan Scott – now some kind of Green Lantern God Thing – Power Girl, the Flash and new Batman Dick Grayson are out to stop their friends.
There’s an interesting new status for Power Girl, and a villain who’s stolen his costume ideas from the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Cosmic Boy, but neither is enough to get me to commit to this series by writer Daniel H Wilson and artist Jorge Jiminez. And if you don’t laugh at Dick Grayson’s new costume, you’re probably in a coma.
The Justice League are fighting a bunch of aliens who are accusing Cyborg of stealing something. He has no idea what they mean but hasn’t time to find out before they slash off his one human arm and gut his torso. He dies. But he regenerates with a new metal body, thanks to some mystery operating system. What’s going on? That’s the question that’s meant to get us to try the first issue of his upcoming series. If it’s something other than random Apokolips tech, or a failsafe added by Victor’s super-scientist dad, I’ll be impressed. Given how ripped apart Victor is in this preview by writer David F Walker and artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, I think it’s time to let the poor guy go. It’s no life being little more than the Justice League’s sentient teleporter, constantly patronised by Batman and Wonder Woman.
Hopefully, Walker, Reis and Prado will give Victor an actual life outside the team, because Cyborg’s DC universe career since his 2011 reinvention has been simply depressing. Creators this talented have a shot. The script here is good, and the illustrators – Reis is credited as ‘penciller’ while Prado is ‘artist’, which I don’t quite understand – give us the fine work we’ve come to expect from them; I especially like the movement of the first two panels, above. So, I’ll give this book a try, but too much Justice League and I’ll likely be out.
A man walks into a bar. It’s John Constantine, here to listen to the problems of a young woman who’s gotten in too deep with dark forces. Don’t worry, though, John has things in hand…
Writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV and artist Riley Rossmo produce the kind of speedy moral fable that would’ve fit right into DC’s old mystery books. It doesn’t have the most unexpected of endings, but it does a great job of course correction for JC. The mystic superhero of the New 52 is gone, replaced by the unsentimental street magician of old. The script reads well – TV Constantine Matt Ryan is now fully my John voice – while the art is as attractive as it is effective. I don’t know if Rossmo is using the old DuoShade board Joe Staton employed for his long-ago Huntress work, but I do like the stippling effect. Bring on the series.
A new day dawns for Black Canary. Forget the horrors of the last few years, Dinah Drake is on the road with the band who recruited her in the Batgirl series, breaking hearts and breaking arms. She doesn’t mean to leave chaos in her wake, but the band – renamed Black Canary – is a trouble magnet. This preview sees a disgruntled rival group show up at a Gotham City gig and bid to take their grievances out on Dinah. Poor deluded souls…
In just eight pages, writer Brenden Fletcher and artist Annie Wu give us the best Black Canary in years, a good-natured soul who’d happily resolve issues peaceably, but kick your arse if you attack first. The script is amusing without getting too silly, while Annie Wu’s self-coloured art gives the strip real personality – the fight choreography is particularly sharp. And wonder of wonders, Dinah is in a version of her classic costume and looks like herself again.
If the series is as good as the preview, DC has a hit on its hands.
And speaking of the Dominoed Daredoll, Brenden Fletcher continues to co-write, with Cameron Stewart, DC’s hit revamp of Barbara Gordon. And Babs Tarr continues to draw, no longer working from Stewart’s layouts but taking on the full art job, colours and all. And the result of this creative combo is a fast-moving, funny, great-looking take on the tired old Murderworld trope. Batgirl is in a videogame Warehouse of Doom, at the mercy of murderous programmers Co-op. They think. In fact, Babs can out-think these two, and with new Oracle pal Frankie at the end of the phone, she’s the one who gets to declare Game Over. With script and art this zippy, and characters this likeable, Batgirl is a hard series not to love.