Batman Justice League Darkseid War books is too many Batman Justice League Darkseid War books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Justice League Darkseid War: Superman 1, Justice League Darkseid War: Flash 1, Batman and Robin Eternal 5, Green Lantern 47 and Detective Comics 46.
Justice League Darkseid War: Superman 1
Michael: Hooray for needless tie-ins! Of all of the Darkseid War one shots I’ve read so far, Francis Manapul’s Justice League Darkseid War: Superman 1 was definitely the weakest. We’ve heard over and over again about how hard it is to write The Man of Steel because he’s not “relatable.” While I understand that argument, I will counter with how equally hard it seems to be to write a “bad Superman.” The Flash has become The Black Racer and Batman is the new Metron, but Superman’s role as “The God of Strength” is super ill-defined; it would probably be more appropriate to call him “The God of Dicks.” (Sorry for any unintended imagery I just sparked.) Having an asshole Superman is actually a pretty standard practice in the hero’s career; there are countless covers to Superman and Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane where Kal-El is a cruel, abusive strong man. Justice League Darkseid War: Superman 1 feels a lot like those old tales from the ’50s actually, and that’s not a good thing. Superman fights an alien in the heart of Metropolis and causes major property damage without a care (much like Man of Steel – yes, I have to get my digs in still.) The other big set piece is a diner where Supes throws a temper tantrum because he wants his pie and doesn’t want to be compared to humans. Man oh man this one missed the mark. It wasn’t interesting, it was funny and it’s impression of “bad Superman” was tiresome. Yikes.
Mark: Your God of Strength, ladies and gentlemen! Give him his pie…or else!
Justice League Darkseid War: Flash 1
Mark: Ever since Geoff Johns’ The Flash: Rebirth changed Barry Allen’s origin to include the murder of his mother, and especially now that the popular television show has cemented this origin in the minds new audiences, death has always hung over Flash stories. In Justice League Darkseid War: Flash 1 writer Rob Williams takes this fascination with death to a new level by having Barry try to literally outrun Death, in the form of Black Racer. It’s futile, of course. Death is a necessary part of life.
So Black Racer is not really a villain here, even if he is Barry’s antagonist. He shows Barry a Christmas Carol-like vision of the world to help Barry understand the role and necessity of death, but it’s obviously not a mantle that The Flash can take on lightly. He even goes so far as to try and kill Black Racer, but ends up realizing that leaving death unmoored would only make things worse. In the end he allows himself to merge with Black Racer and accept the title of God of Death.
But while I enjoyed it overall, the structure of the issue is rather confusing. There’s a dream-like quality to the narrative (Flash and Black Racer seemingly shift in and out of realities fluidly) that is lost in Jesus Merino’s art and it makes for a few jarring, unexplained transitions for the reader. Which is not to say that it’s bad art (it’s not), it’s just incredibly straightforward and there are pages and sequences that would have benefited from a more impressionistic take.
What’d you think, Michael?
Michael: Mark, one of the (many) complaints that I have about our New 52/DC YOU/whateverthefuck Justice League team is that all of them have the “dead parent guilt” that used to only be reserved for Batman. Rob Williams seems to be a more old school Flash fan (and by that I mean like early 2000s Flash), because Justice League The Darkseid War: The Flash 1 wasn’t bogged down by the “difference for difference’s sake” mentality that we get in modern Flash tales.
There were a couple of instances in this book where I felt like Rob was winking at the reader about pre-New 52 Flash fun. When Barry is suddenly transported to Iris’ apartment he asks himself why he’s there instead of with girlfriend Patty Spivot. The answer is that Rob knows that Iris West is The Flash’s Lois Lane, current status quo be damned. And going back to the “Nora Allen murder” of it all, Williams has Barry snap back at The Black Racer by refuting the claim that his mother’s murder is why he’s The Flash. I really liked that touch, not simply because it’s a nod to the old days but that Barry Allen is the type of guy who doesn’t need such a tragedy to define him. Barry is kind of a fitting choice for the role of The God of Death because he has killed in the comics before, but it’s definitely not his M.O. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if Batman got thrown into that role instead of Barry however. Would he just sit there and refuse to kill? That might be an interesting page or two…definitely not an entire comic.
Batman and Robin Eternal 5
Drew: And then there are those titles not participating in Darkseid War. The Robins have enough to worry about, but this week finds them fighting each other, as Dick visits the Drakes to learn about Tim’s past. Jack Drake does offer some cryptic clues about Tim “arriving,” but it’s ambiguous enough that it might still be a red herring — it certainly seems like the “Mother” phone call that Tim got at the end of last week’s issue was just an alert from the Drakes’ insanely advanced security system.
At any rate, the in-fighting distracts the Robins from Orphan, who terrorizes Harper and Cass this issue, but Cass manages to get the upper hand (pun woefully intended).
That’s a lot of action to pack into the issue, and the assembled team of artists is more than up to the task. I was particularly impressed with Steve Pugh’s contributions, which manage to make Tim look like an actual (albeit crazy buff) teenager, rather than just drawing him as a short adult. Actually, Pugh’s directing is also stellar, injecting tons of drama into one of the few non-life-threatening scenes in this issue.
The density of conflicts in this issue goes to show how quickly things are developing here. I still have no idea what Mother is, or what Bruce’s relationship to it was, but there’s more than enough going on to keep me coming back. Oh, and I can never miss an opportunity to make hand puns.
Green Lantern 46
Spencer: I missed the last few issues of Green Lantern, but even without experiencing the build-up of the conflict between Hal and Black Hand, the grand conclusion in issue 46 still feels underwhelming. Black Hand never seems to pose any real threat to Hal and Relic, and it takes no skill or effort for them to defeat him — they just stand there and let him be sucked into the Source Wall. I’m yawning just thinking about it.
There are a few fun concepts scattered throughout the issue, though. Hal and Relic being forced to work together is much more interesting than Relic just acting as a straight-up villain, the camaraderie between Hal, his ship, and its passengers is sweet, and the ironic twist to Black Hand’s fate is clever, even if the unintentionally funny execution ends up undermining its effectiveness.
Ultimately, Green Lantern 46 is thoroughly unremarkable, and that’s nothing new — it’s how I ended up missing a few issues to begin with. There’s nothing really wrong with Robert Venditti’s writing, and I actually enjoy most of Billy Tan’s art here, especially the effects he and colorist Alex Sinclair use on Hal’s constructs, but none of it adds up to anything memorable — even Hal’s supposed status as a “renegade” feels glossed over and unimportant here. I miss the days when Green Lantern was exciting and vital; this issue is anything but.
Detective Comics 46
Patrick: One of my favorite suspensions of disbelief in the world of DC Comics is the idea that Batman could ever hold his own among the Justice League. He’s “the world’s greatest detective” and his ability to out-think his opponents has made him a super being in his own right. But accepting that Bruce’s real super power has always been an inability to lose requires a little delusion from both readers and creators. With Bruce Wayne out of the picture and Jim Gordon donning the Bat mantle, where does that leave Batman’s role within the Justice League? After all, if he’s not the world’s greatest detective, what’s the point of even having him on the team?
Peter Tomasi and Marcio Takara’s Detective Comics 46 sets out to answer that question. The question itself is most frequently voiced by Jim himself – everyone else simply takes it for granted that this new Batman will be a valuable asset. The issue is a murder mystery: the Leaguers found a giant skeleton in the Himalayas and have to work together to investigate. Even with Batman on-site, it’s clear that everyone else is more than capable of handling this investigation on their own. Jim constantly has to ask Wonder Woman or Superman to lift things for him, and Gordon’s own crime scene skills are upstaged by Flash and Cyborg. Still, no one complains about having Jim-Bats around – partially because he’s such a nice guy. And that’s precisely where Jim Gordon sets himself apart from Bruce Wayne. In the end, the orphaned monster creature is pacified by a holographic projection of its mother’s face until it slowly dies. This was Jim’s idea, born out of a compassion we don’t normally expect from Batman.
And that’s especially remarkable when you consider that Bruce is the orphan, not Jim. In fact, Batman deciding to stay with the creature it passes on seems like a direct reference to Jim being there for Bruce in the wake of his parents’ shooting. Before Jim-Bats — hell, even before Vanilla-Bats — Jim had demonstrated his greatest power.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?