DC Cybernetic Summer #1 review

Growing up in the UK, summer specials were a thing – tabloid-sized editions of our weekly favourites on super-shiny paper, all in colour for 25p… back then full-colour was reserved for only a few pages in the likes of the Beano, Dandy and Bunty. I loved them, so I couldn’t resist this seasonal special.

And ‘cybernetic’? Random, but DC does like to theme its giant anthologies. Mind, while the likes of Robotman, Red Tornado and the Metal Men are featured here, it’s stretching it to say a Booster Gold and Blue Beetle tale that happens to feature Skeets, or a Midnighter and Apollo story in which the Brain has a tiny role, really hits the theme, but hey, they’re fun diversions.

The book opens with a Batman story – of course it does – which has him facing ‘my greatest mistake’, Brother Eye. That’s the artificial intelligence created by Bats to spy on his fellow heroes after they mind-wiped him… Hero and A.I. fight across eight pages in a tale written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman and illustrated by Hardman and colourist Mike Spicer. It’s a well-crafted story but I honestly do hate Brother Eye, it’s just the Construct and the Kilg%re with the Emerald Eye’s annoying speech tic. And every time a writer reminds me that a lot of people people died as a direct result of Batman inventing Brother Eye, I get very uncomfortable. Still, we do get this lovely summery scene…

Who’s that lady, Leslie Thompkins?

Platinum is having a nice day at the beach but where have the other Metal Men got to? Just as she finds out, a certain Amazing Amazon arrives.

This is a nice slice of nonsense, properly summery – none of that ‘Batman doesn’t get summer’ malarkey here – and with a surprise villain. OK, he’s another of my unfavourites, but he makes sense. and how wonderful that Diana and Platinum, who were both drawn for a long time by the great team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, are fans of one another! So it’s a big old ‘well done’ to writer Andrew Constant, artist Nicola Scott – her classic Metal Men stylings are spot on – and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Comic co-dependents Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are ‘The Boys of Summer’ in a very silly time-twisting tale. Michael and Ted want nothing more than a quiet day at the beach, but the space they’re after is rapidly filled by alternate versions of themselves.

The gags just keep on coming courtesy of writer Heath Corson and artist Scott Koblish, with my favourite involving Booster’s bijou time bubble. I especially like the future Ted and Michael looks, and how regular Ted is drawn like Reggie from Archie. This is the story that should have kicked off the book, setting a silly, summery tone.

The next entry stars Mercury Flash, who you will remember… do you remember? I don’t recall this robotic speedster at all but apparently he’s from Earth 44. He’s the finalist against our very own Barry Allen in the annual Fastest Flash in the Multiverse contest.

And he’s pretty horrible, meaning I didn’t enjoy him getting so much page time. Just look at all those fun Flash types in the stands, from Fastback to Lia from the Tangent Universe, and we’re stuck with a bad-tempered bucket of bolts. Which is, of course, the point, Barry has to win him over, but still… then again, I’ve never enjoyed stories where the Flash is racing another hero – usually Superman, as acknowledged here – so this was never going to be my favourite. It’s nevertheless a decent, good-looking read from writer Josh Williamson and artist David Lafuente.

The big draw for me with this comic is the inclusion of a Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes story billed as ‘A Silver Age Tale’. There’s no Watcher type explaining DC’s multiverse, no character from current canon going back to observe events… nope, this is ‘just’ a story featuring the pre-Crisis characters. And a lovely little story it is too, being a bittersweet tale of a Superboy robot finding that there’s more to artificial life than hanging around the Kent cellar waiting to be sent out to cover for his ‘master’.

Writer Liz Erickson – a DC editor by day – and artist Nik Virella capture that old Adventure Comics vibe – I’m surprised we don’t get that classic phrase ‘How ironic (choke)’ in the final panel! If colourist Fajardo had eschewed modern production techniques for a look that recalled old-fashioned four-colour comics, this would have been perfect. As it is, it’s a poignant, gorgeously illustrated argument for DC giving us new stories from old continuities.

Midnight and Apollo, unlike Booster and Beetle, don’t mind being on a crowded beach. They don’t mind having to interrupt their holiday to save the crew of a floating prison from Monsieur Mallah. They do mind that the hairy horror would happily kill them.

There’s a happy ending of sorts to Steve Orlando, Paul Pelletier and Norm Rapmund’s witty, action-packed piece, and I love that Midnighter can’t stop flirting even though Mallah’s not necessarily a gay-rilla. Also, great trunks!

There’s summer spirit to spare as Harley Quinn does her level best to give pal Cy Borgman (geddit?) a nice day out. Writer Che Grayson delivers a peppy script, her Harley extremely engaging, while Marguerite Sauvage’s illustrations are the visual equivalent of tutti frutti ice cream – heck, the opening image of Harley required by Grayson’s script is worth the price of admission. Christy Sawyer’s animated lettering adds to the fun.

Robotman and his best pal Mike – just go with it! – get to walk a mile in one another’s shoes in a bonkers fun story from Max Bemis and Greg Smallwood. Who knew DC’s more irregular individuals socialised?

Boy, that Tina really does like fun in the sun

From the delightful introductory panel to the final image, this is sheer delight.

There’s more madness as Cyborg and Superman are challenged by… the Cyborg Superman – and you won’t believe who turns up to act as peacemaker.

A slight twist towards the end irked me, but writer Stuart Moore and artist Cully Hamner then got me right back onside with the perfect counter to that reveal.

Did I miss anything? Only my favourite story! Red Tornado, wife Kathy and daughter Traya are on a supposedly relaxing trip but Justice League business keeps getting in the way.

When Traya wanders off and meets someone big, green and pretty darn extraterrestrial, Reddy realises he has his priorities wrong. I’ve always liked RT, and it’s a shame we see him so rarely – Kathy and Traya even less – and this is a great showcase. We see his wonderfully visual powers at full force and are reminded that despite his android make-up, he’s the most human of heroes. This strip – a tight eight pages like every other entry in this book – has a ridiculous amount of heart, thanks to writer Stephanie Phillips, illustrator Leila del Duca and colour artist Jordie Bellaire.

I’ve not mentioned all the letterers and colourists, but they and the various editors are all much appreciated for their talents. Thanks, too, to Darran Robinson for the attractive publication design, from the excellent masthead to the stylish intro and outro pages. As for the witty cover image by the splendid Dan Mora and cracking colourist Tamra Bonvillain, it’s a hoot… hopefully, DC already have them working on a Christmas special cover.

Heck, I’d happily see Holiday shorts from everyone involved in this giant issue, there’s not a single stone in the sandshoe – DC Cybernetic Summer is a real ray of sunshine on the comic racks.

7 thoughts on “DC Cybernetic Summer #1 review

  1. I loved the Red tornado story best too. This was the way he was best presented. No tornado spirit from Rann. No Wind Elemental. Just a very well made sentient robot who earned the love of his wife and adopted daughter. Until Snyder or someone ruins it, this is how I picture Reddy’s life between rare appearances…

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  2. I found the artwork for the Flash story the most appealing – David Lafuente has a very interesting style. His heavy outlines remind me of Adam Hughes, though it’s the colorist who would have lifted so many interior lines and replaced them with pure color. Maybe Lafuente collaborates with Luis Guerrero frequently, because I can’t imagine colorists otherwise doing this kind of work on top of line art unless they had an understanding with the penciller/inker. I think it’s called color holds, where the colorist removes the line art leaving just color – very commonly seen with fire, energy beams and the like, but not otherwise so prominent. This is pretty intense – VERY bold outlines with nearly non-existent lines otherwise.

    Anyway, found stuff about Mercury Flash:

    https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Mercury_Flash_(Earth_44)

    An android, and part of The Metal League, from The Multiversity Guidebook March 2015. These seem to be Metal Men/Justice League hybrids – including Gold Superman, Iron Batman, Platinum Wonder Woman, Tin Elongated Man, etc.

    https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/The_Multiversity_Guidebook_Vol_1_1

    So I guess it was clever of Morrison to come up with a metal Flash whose name is reminiscent of Max Mercury. A good fit.

    I’ve only recently become aware of David Lafuente, who is doing some adorable Young Justice alternate covers under the pen name Darko Lafuente.

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    1. Fascinating, I like David L’s stuff, but feel Flash isn’t the best character for him, he can go way too bulky… check out the DC Digital First Flash: Fastest Man Alive #8. And you’re likely right about the excellent Luis F, they work together there too.

      Ta for the info on Mercury Flash, I did read that but couldn’t be bothered to check, I disliked him that much here!

      And I haven’t idea why some comments go into moderation. It upsets me, I want you here, immediately!

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  3. Is it longer comments that get flagged (by WordPress?) for moderation? I bet this one shows up right away before the one I just posted.

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  4. This is definitely one of the better 80-page anthologies DC has put out. The Booster/Beetle story was my favorite, from the sheer fun of it (and I was shocked the art wasn’t by Scott Kolins — Scott Koblish has a very similar line weight.

    My next favorites were the Robotman story and the Cyborg/Superman teamup. Liked the Superboy story too — a ton of heart in that one! Though hopefully we’ll eventually see the current Legion show up in anthologies like this.

    I can only hope Alfred is vacationing with No One We Know. He deserves some peace completely outside the Bat-Family.

    My least favorite was probably the Flash story, as the Mercury Flashbot was just unpleasant to be around. More than anything else, I liked looking in the stands at the spectators.

    As for Reddy, he’s never been a favorite of mine, but I did like seeing Kathy and Traya.

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  5. I hadn’t considered that Koblish might be a misprinted Kolins, I’m glad you’ve assured us it isn’t. Looking at Google Images, Koblish draws a fantastic Karate Kid.

    The current Legion can show up in anthologies like this when they’re two reboots past, I want to see the originals occasionally!

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