DC Round-Up Comics Released 5/11/16

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How many Batman books is too many Batman 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 Action Comics 52, Gotham Academy 18 and Starfire 12.

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Action Comics 52

Action Comics 52Mark: I will never not find it weird that Superman and Wonder Woman are dating. DC and its writers seem to forget about it for long stretches of time (because it’s pretty stupid and has added nothing to the characterization of either hero). Occasionally someone remembers and we get a moment like the one here in Action Comics 52 where Superman and Wonder Woman fly around while holding hands. It’s wonky, but as writer Peter Tomasi works to wrap up the story of New 52’s Superman it’s also a fairly necessary reminder of the “love” these two “share” since this is the issue pre- and post-Flashpoint Superman meet each other.

I’ve been one of the few human beings keeping up with Dan Jurgens’ Superman: Lois and Clark, and Tomasi does a good job of quickly orienting readers to the pertinent details of  that book. Still, for some reason the moment when all of our Supermen meet didn’t carry much of an impact for me. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that it lasts mere moments, and post-Flashpoint Superman can barely get out a “Who are–” before pre-Flashpoint Supes flies away to reunite with his family.

Like much of this Action Comics arc, the groundwork is being laid for something bigger down the line. It’s still an enteraining read, but the endless wheel spinning is beginning to grate more and more with each passing issue.

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Gotham Academy 18

Gotham City 18Michael: I must say that I have grown a little tired of Gotham Academy’s closing arc “Yearbook.” I totally understand how the yearbook tales are interwoven to flesh out the main narrative of the plot, but after five issues in a row that storytelling device becomes stale. Cutting away from the ongoing action to show a brief, semi-related “It reminds of the time…” flashback is a “technique” that Family Guy typically gets flack for. Some of the “mysteries” that Gotham Academy 18 uncovers – such as “Whatever Happened to Professor Milo?” are not ones that I’m particularly interested in.

However, if I had to pick a favorite story featured in this issue it might be Steve Orlando’s “Precious Metals.” This story is an example of a comic book reveling in the absurdity of the medium without attempting to explain or justify itself. Maps’ new teacher Mr. Silversmith is obsessed with silver – he respects it, adores it and speaks to it. I’m all for the introduction of a heavy-handed character like this and Orlando never even attempting to make him feel “real.” I also was very much in favor of Maps planning ahead for the eventuality that she will need a silver dagger to defend herself from the mystical forces of Gotham Academy.

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Damian Wayne’s presence in this book is interesting – he’s the plot in motion, the r’asion d’etre. Damian is the white rabbit that Maps and Olive are chasing throughout the past several issues, leading them to recount all of the tales of the yearbook. I actually like Damian’s role as plot-propeller, because it seems like a very logical and efficient role that Damian himself would approve of. I am a little suspect of Damian leading them on a wild goose chase only to leave a sentimental present for Maps. Damian Wayne is not a complete jackass, but it takes some time for him to warm up to a person; I’m not sure Maps has put in that time.

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Starfire 12

Starfire 12Spencer: There’s very little conflict in Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Elsa Charretier’s Starfire 12; instead, the issue is all heart. The story here simply chronicles Kori’s farewell tour of Key West, but that’s okay; much like Starfire has from the start, the story thrives because of the smaller, more human, slice-of-life moments between Kori and her friends.

While the dialogue throughout some of these scenes can occasionally come across as a little stiff or stilted (especially the page Sol and Stella spend explaining M.S.), the sheer earnestness of these characters more than makes up for it.

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Every time Conner, Palmiotti, and Charretier treat us to a moment of kindness, empathy, and genuine connection, I can’t help but get a bit misty-eyed; moments like this are what have kept me coming back to Starfire over the past 12 issues.

Kori’s been the perfect slice-of-life protagonist because her naivety allows her to find unending wonder in even the most insignificant and routine of moments, and Starfire‘s success has largely stemmed from the way the creative team has allowed their readers to share in Kori’s joy — that doesn’t change just because this is the series’ final issue, and it applies just as much to the larger-than-life moments as it does the small ones.

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I read a lot of comic books, and they treat me to a wide variety of gorgeous art, exciting action, and zany, off-the-wall hijinks, but I don’t know if there’s any other title out there right now trying to create the sheer sense of joy, awe, and good ol’ fashioned wonder that Starfire‘s been churning out for a solid year now. I’m gonna miss that.

Starfire ultimately decides to leave Key West because she’s afraid she’ll only continue to attract more danger to the town, danger that could hurt the friends she’s come to love so dearly. Kori instead decides to seek out more people with powers, feeling that she belongs with them for the time being. I can’t help but wonder if this is some commentary from the creative team, their way of saying that it’s time for Kori to go back to interacting mainly with other superheroes now that their run is coming to an end. If so, that’s a bit of a shame; Kori can certainly thrive amongst other heroes, but the street-level point of view she’s cultivated throughout this series has been a refreshing take on the character. Starfire was never a perfect series, but it’s one I’ve enjoyed a great deal regardless, and I’m certainly going to miss it.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

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3 comments on “DC Round-Up Comics Released 5/11/16

  1. Gotham Academy: I have to say, I too was starting to get a little tired with the Yearbook arc. Quite similar to you, I loved the Silversmith story. Great example of the book’s use of forgotten, silly Batman villains being re-purposed into quirky teachers. They fully commit to give Silversmith just as much a love for silver as you would expect from the supervillain version of him. And Maps preparing a silver weapon is just right. I’m also very happy with how the framing device worked. Works really well, fully fitting in the complex psychology of Damian. Very sweet, but embarrassed to the point of doing everything he can to hide it. On the question of ‘has there been enough Damian/Maps stuff?’, that is a harder question. They only had one issue together, but Gotham Academy has made the effort into making it very clear that it did mean something to Damian (especially during Robin War). We have the evidence of the commitment Damian has to being Maps’ secret friend, but sadly only one issue that built it up. As I said, that second arc should not have been made of one shots, but two parters. Doing One Shots just never gave any story enough space

    Starfire: I never got to read Starfire, though I’m planning to after seeing so many great pages, but it is a shame that the ending was ‘I’m leaving you because it is to dangerous’. Everything I’ve seen suggests it is all about love and building strong bonds between people, and the idea of making an ending where Starfire leaves is wrong. I know that Rebirth means that she will need to return to superheroes for Teen TItans. But couldn’t they say ‘I am going to leave as I have things I want to do, but I will come back regularly, because you are my friends and I love you’. Seems to fit what this book is supposed to be, and even if the Teen Titans writer completely ignores Key West, it would still work in the context of continuity, as that just means Starfire goes to Key West between stories

    • Oh, Kori entirely promised to come back and visit, and the creative team made it clear that this wasn’t going to be the last time Kori saw these characters. I’m thinking of it exactly as you said it — even if we never see Kori in Key West again, we can assume that she still comes down and visits them from time to time. I feel like that’s pretty much how the creative team left it.

      (Of course, that’s kind of something I do with all changes of scenery and supporting characters; of COURSE Impulse still ran back to Manchester all the time to visit Carol and Preston even after being moved to Keystone City and becoming Kid Flash, why WOULDN’T he?!)

      The lead-up to Kori’s decision in issue 11 is a bit convoluted, but she was explicitly attracting danger to the town in the form of assassins who were hired to kill her (presumably by Blackfire, though that storyline was never fully resolved), and it scared a few of her friends, even if they only revealed that to her under the influence of mind-altering substances and later regretted it and begged Kori to stay. So I think she thinks its safer if she doesn’t live in Key West — or perhaps among normal humans at all — for a while, but doesn’t seem to think visiting will cause that much danger.

      Visits were promised, I guess is what I’m trying to say. I would’ve been bothered too if they weren’t.

      • Ah, good. That sounds better. From my (admittedly not very good perspective) I think I like the idea of Starfire leaving for motives other than protection. Leaving because she can’t stay and do other things she wants to do (but visits all the time, because why not), but at least they don’t make the mistake of having Starfire leave and never visit. While we always like to think the supporting cast are important to the character even after they leave, in a book like this all about love, it feels even more important to emphasize that they characters won’t just disappear

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