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 discussing Green Arrow 6, Nightwing 4, and Superman 6. Also, we discussed Supergirl 1 yesterday and we’ll be talking about Batman 6 on Monday, so come back for that! As always, this article containers SPOILERS.
Green Arrow 6
Michael: I first became aware of Stephen Byrne’s art on Twitter; and the dude has got some talent, you guys. Byrne makes his debut on the title in this week’s Green Arrow 6, which focuses on Oliver’s half-sister, half-sidekick Emiko Queen. Byrne draws whimsical characters glisten with a lively glow – an aesthetic that feels completely appropriate for the larger-than-life youngster. (Do we know how old she is again? I wanna say as old as Damian Wayne. I’m still waiting for those two to team up.)
Writer Benjamin Percy splits up the issue into past and present. This split is best captured by the title page, where Emiko is having a nightmare about being torn between her brother and her mother. In the present, Emiko is trying to free her mother Shado from her current master Obuyan. In the past Emiko is infiltrating a gang run by the Clock King. Clock King gives Emiko a “mechanical speed” watch that she becomes addicted to like a drug – making her crazy efficient with her time but having bad withdrawals on the back end. Could Percy and Byrne be echoing a certain famous “my ward is a junkie” storyline? Up until this point, Emiko has just been a quippy, sometimes back-stabby little sister. I think that this “Sins of the Mother” arc will help establish a deeper connection between Ollie and Emiko.
The continuity fiend in me is getting caught up in reconciling this Clock King with The New 52 crime boss Clock King and the log underwear Clock King from Deathstroke – I’ll try to let it go.
Spencer: So it turns out that this arc’s title, “Better Than Batman,” was never referring to Raptor at all, but to Nightwing himself. With Nightwing 4, Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez show us a Nightwing who can complete a mission his way: through trust, teamwork, and perhaps just a bit of moral flexibility.
That last point is one Batman, of course, isn’t very happy about. Despite an attack from a “God” (which takes the Owls’ elitism to its ultimate ending point; they’ve always considered themselves above commoners due to their wealth, Moloch is just a literal, physical manifestation of that God Complex), Batman is easily the most difficult opponent Dick’s faced this entire arc. This time, though, Dick may just have the upper hand.
In many ways, this conflict is a common one between parent and child. Every (good) parent wants their child to surpass them, to lead a better life and just be better than them, but even the best parent can sometimes get flustered when it actually happens, or when it happens in a way they didn’t anticipate. Dick’s abilities to lead and to naturally connect with people have always been touted as areas in which he surpasses Batman, and with all the information we have up to this point in the issue, that’s exactly what I’d chalk their argument up to. After all, we’ve already seen how effective Dick’s methods turned out to be.
But then…but then, Raptor shows his true colors and throws my entire reading off. Raptor makes so much more sense to me as a character now; all his inconsistencies are very much on purpose, as he’s clearly playing a role in order to get Nightwing on his side. I could be off, but I’d peg him as a straight-up sociopath; I’m assuming he’s not actually from the circus, and was just planting clues that he is in order to gain Dick’s affection. If so, those parting words about Dick’s mom are especially heartless.
Ultimately, though, the role Raptor seems to be playing is the role of Nightwing himself.
Several times throughout Nightwing 4 we see the similarities between Dick and Raptor highlighted; they have many of the same goals and mannerisms, even if they came to their mission from opposite sides of the law. The question now is, if Raptor was simply using Nightwing’s methods to manipulate and deceive him, and if Dick’s trust in Raptor is misplaced, then does that mean he’s in the wrong in his argument with Batman? Does that mean Nightwing would be a better hero if he was just like Batman? It’s not necessarily the most original question to pose, but I’m interested to see Seeley’s answer to it regardless.
Shane: Well, if we were wondering how Batman would feel about Superman crashing his Moon-Batcave, we get our answer in this issue. All that and more! The random inclusion of all the Kryptonian spirits sort of comes full circle in a few ways, as Superman uses their power to defeat the Eradicator (bringing back an old friend in the process), while the spirits validate Superman’s legacy — against everything Eradicator has been saying — in a pretty heartwarming display of fireworks. And those fireworks are, arguably, the biggest part of it, because they help announce Superman’s existence to the world. After all, when an energy meteor is rising from the moon, you sort of have to take notice, and through powerful telescopes, everyone saw Superman — a new Superman, replacing the one they lost — saving the day, in front of an iconic lunar monument, no less. It’s a picture-perfect moment, and just one of the few in the issue.
I’m not going to say that I understand or love how the spirits became a huge focus of this arc, and I definitely think it muddled the story, but it definitely helped get us from point A (a very, very complicated Superman situation) to point B (he’s once again the beloved world hero). Action Comics is going through the same thing, extending the drama of multiple Clarks, Loises and Supermans out to further arcs, but I really look forward to the main Superman title moving forward to tell iconic and positive Superman stories. Tomasi and Gleason seem all for that, with this issue full of timeless moments. Starting with the scene on the moon, Superman goes on to receive the keys to the city, and then confronts the Justice League in a way that’s absolutely perfect for the character:
Man, look at that. Some fine artwork from Patrick Gleason, presenting our hero in all his glory: he’s beaming, and in more ways than one. The New 52 Superman had his time, during which this Superman got to mope around in the shadows, hiding to protect his family. But now, he’s back in the spotlight, with his son — officially, and finally, Superboy — at his side. Let’s do this.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?