DC Round-Up: Comics Released 9/14/16

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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 discussing Action Comics 963, All-Star Batman 2, Detective Comics 940, The Flash 6, New Super-Man 3 and Wonder Woman 6. Also, we’ll be discussing Gotham Academy Second Semester 1 on Friday and Superwoman 2 on Monday, so come back for those! As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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Action Comics 963

action-comics-963Drew: The thing that is often missing from Nature vs. Nurture debates is the acknowledgement that however our genes may affect our personalities, those traits are reinforced by the world around us. That is, a person who is rewarded for being smart will pride themselves on being smart, and work hard to maintain that title. You can replace “smart” with “athletic” or “funny” or any other descriptor, and the statement would be true. So what if you didn’t have the one character trait that most defined you? That’s the Clark Kent we’re introduced to in Action Comics 963 — one who was never Superman, and thus was never the character we know as “Clark Kent.”

That concept is complicated a bit by the fact that Clark Kent as we know him was essentially an act Superman put on to disguise himself. He wasn’t actually the clumsy, flaky, nearsighted goofus we know. Even the deeper personality traits we associate with Clark Kent — his sense of duty, responsibility, and knowing right from wrong — are arguably lessons that were impressed on him because of his abilities. Clark Kent wouldn’t be the character we know if he hadn’t wrestled with defining a moral use of his powers, a philosophical quandary that wouldn’t come up if he never had superpowers in the first place. All of which leaves Clark Kent as more or less a blank slate. Curiously, he launches pretty much straight into action mode:

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I guess, in the absence of superpowers, Clark Kent becomes a reckless “journalist,” prone to committing numerous assaults as he sniffs out a good story. Which is to say: it rings a little false to me. Anybody who behaves like this would be in prison, not a newsroom. BUT, as Clark points out, this maybe is the kind of thing Lois Lane pulls all the time. Maybe believing that this is what journalists do is just part of the suspension of disbelief of this series. In that case, writer Dan Jurgens seems to be poising Clark Kent as the Lois Lane to Lois Lane’s new Superwoman. That is: he’ll be the one getting into impossibly dangerous situations in pursuit of a story, and she’ll have to rush in and save him. That gender-swap might lend some freshness to the formula, but if this issue is any indication, I’m not sure I have the palate for Clark’s new penchant for battery. Maybe Superman can teach him some of those morals he never bothered learning?

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All-Star Batman 2

all-star-batman-2Michael: If you want proof that Scott Snyder still has the absolute best Batman game in town, look no further than All-Star Batman 2. Snyder and John Romita Jr. waste little to no time catching up readers on the premise and jump right back into the action of it. The second issue continues the “road movie” vibe that gives us a Batman comic that is equal parts comedic, intelligent and just hardcore cool. Snyder is the kind of Batman writer who constantly looks for new ways to innovate the tried and true Batman formula. In All-Star Batman 2 he and Romita take that philosophy and apply it to an iconic symbol of the batsuit itself: the bat ears.

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Yes, yes, oh my god YES. The ears of Batman’s cowl have the ability to transform into bat shanks. This is such a well-executed sequence: just when I’m getting over my disbelief at that sheer awesomeness, Batman comes back at Two-Face with a goddamn quip about not hearing what he said. It’s a thing of beauty you guys. There’s an unapologetic jackassery about this Batman that I can’t get enough of – he’s the straight man in a world of fools and he don’t suffer no fools.

There are ten bat villains in this book and it’s amazing that it doesn’t seem like too much. The movement of this book is on point, you definitely get your money. And the specific Two-Face psychology described here is something that I’m not quite sure we’ve seen before; which makes future chapters of All-Star Batman all the more exciting.

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Detective Comics 940

detective-comics-940Spencer: Tim Drake hasn’t exactly been handled well in the New 52. Looking back at the past five years, it can be hard to remember that he was once the Robin, and one of the most central and beloved members of the Bat Family. James Tynion IV remembers, though, and has been using his first arc on Detective Comics to not only repair some of the damage done to Red Robin, but to return him to his rightful place within the franchise.

All the work Tynion’s done — reestablishing Tim’s intelligence, relationship with Stephanie, and uncertainty about his heroic future — culminates in Detective Comics 940. Red Robin’s heroic final battle and subsequent “death” showcases everything Tim brings to the table as a character — his skills, relationships, and bravery — or, at least, it’s supposed to. I admit, I’m bummed by the exclusion of Tim’s actual fight with the drones. It’s a clever move on Tynion, Eddy Barrows, and Adriano Lucas’s behalf to show snippets of the battle on Ulysses’ viewscreens — and especially to do so with the inkless, painting-esque style they’ve been using off-and-on throughout this arc — but confining it solely to those screens is disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing what Tim’s claim in 939 that the battle would be “just like math” meant exactly, and without actually seeing Tim’s struggle, it feels like a piece of the story is missing.

Still, I understand that the creative team has space limitations (especially with a crossover starting next issue), and choosing to focus more on the fallout of Tim’s “death” is probably the smarter choice. Tynion, Barrows, Lucas, and inker Eber Ferreira do staggering work throughout the entire scene with Batman and Spoiler — the choice to show Batman viewing and reacting to Tim’s admission letter from his perspective is genius, and Bruce and Stephanie’s hesitance, followed by their embrace, is heartbreaking.

It also gives Tynion a chance to lean into Tim’s importance to the Bat Family even more — in fact, Tynion even gets to tie him into “Rebirth’s” underlying scapegoat narrative by asserting that Tim’s been downplayed within the New 52 because he had too much importance to the old continuity.

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I’m still not sure how I feel about the Watchmen stuff, but taking Tim off the field for a few issues may actually be a smart choice: not only does it give readers a chance to realize how much they miss him, but the tales told about the Bat Family’s grief can continue to assert his importance, building the character up even more for his eventual return.

Yet, how people react to this arc — and how they’re likely to recall it — will probably have more to do with their reaction to Jake Kane’s turn. I admit, I find parts of his and Kate’s interplay intriguing, but I also have very little experience with their relationship (I read “Elegy,” but never got around to the Batwoman solo), so it’s hard for me to fully judge whether this plot is true to Kane’s character or not. Our very own Michael has already promised me a diatribe in the comments, so feel free to join in; I’m genuinely curious as to everyone’s takes.

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The Flash 6

the-flash-6Spencer: Of course August Heart is Godspeed.

To his credit, writer Joshua Williamson did a fine job deflecting suspicion by using Carver and the Black Hole as red herrings; I certainly never caught on, but I really should have. A brand new character immediately given a prominent position in the story, who also just so happens to be a long lost friend of Barry Allen’s? There’s a few different directions that could go, but “secretly the big bad” is pretty high on the list.

So yeah, this is a smart twist: obvious in hindsight, yet not too obvious. More importantly, it transforms Heart into a powerful foil for Barry. Barry thrives when teaching the new speedsters, while Heart thinks they’re squandering their potential; Barry wants more time to do as much as possible, while Heart can literally be in two places at once; Barry followed the letter of the law in attempting to free his father from prison, while Heart murdered the man accused of murdering his brother as soon as he got the opportunity. Barry is justice while Heart is revenge, and that’s a dynamic that’s been simmering since Heart’s introduction, caught aflame by Heart’s finally revealing himself as Godspeed.

Artist Carmie Di Giandomenico and especially colorist Ivan Plascencia do fantastic work selling the menace of Godspeed. The wild, erratic lightning and the harsh reds and yellows filling the background of his reveal couldn’t be any more sinister, and they wring every possible ounce of pain out of Godspeed’s attack on Billy Parks.

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Seriously — the hand-drawn warping effect as Parks is dragged at superspeed is masterful alone, and reaches even grander peaks when combined with the computerized effects. There are moments throughout this issue where Di Giandomenico’s art can occasionally feel a tad too busy, but he always sells the hell outta the speedster’s abilities, and when it comes to The Flash, that may be the most vital skill of all.

I still have a few quibbles with Heart-as-Godspeed’s activities (how can someone so obsessed with “justice” so casually kill the other speedsters?), but I’m otherwise pleased enough with how he’s been handled that I’m willing to wait and see if this is addressed further. The Flash 6 brings a lot of different, long-running plots to a head and transforms Godspeed into a compelling villain; I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

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New Super-Man 3

new-super-man-3Mark: It’s nice to see Kong Kenan grow as a character over the first three issues of New Super-Man. Yes, he’s still cocky and a little bit of a bully, but he’s learning to not say everything he’s thinking and showing remorse for the actions he takes in haste. It’s a relief that Gene Luen Yang is writing him this way since I don’t know how much more I could take of a Harry-Potter-circa-Order of the Phoenix-style protagonist.

The color work by an uncredited Hi-Fi employee(s) is fantastic.

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Their bright and vibrant palette reminds me of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s stunning work on Detective Comics. Superhero books don’t usually look like this.

Yang’s been pretty open about the rough transition he went through from writing graphic novels to dealing with the constraints of a 22-page monthly, and those growing pains were evident in his 10 issue Superman run. In hindsight, I’m glad Yang had the opportunity to work out the kinks on an established character like Superman—it allowed the freedom to experiment and learn without the immediate threat of cancellation. New Super-Man illustrates Yang’s growth as a comic book creator and remains a solid read.

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Wonder Woman 6

wonder-woman-6Patrick: It can be frustrating to read through Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s Wonder Woman 6 because the whole thing hinges on a lack of understanding and compassion. It’s a simple conflict, and one that never actually boils over to anything remotely resembling danger, but Diana’s inability to explain herself to the world is heartbreakingly persistent. Rucka demonstrates this phenomenon on the first page and nails it in with a quick reiteration, just to be sure .

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Scott is careful to get both characters into these panels, twice showing that they’re trying, but the ultimately the only thing they’re able to communicate is an inability to communicate. I love the way letterer Jodi Wynnne handles this language barrier – but putting a literal barrier balloons filled with the Amazonian language. Common practice is to put foreign languages in <brackets> and then make a little *note that it’s “translated from Amazonian, but it’s great to see an extra set of black and white lines standing between what Diana is saying and the ears that need to hear her.

This is the whole issue, a series of mild misunderstandings that result in a situation that is equally humiliating for Wonder Woman and the US Navy. It’s a testament to Diana’s strength of character that she never lashes out violently, even at gunpoint. That would have been a bit of a misdirect anyway – the solutions here aren’t found in violence, but in compassion. In a stand-out scene, Steve visits one of his fellow soldier’s widow. The scene is quietly scored with Steve singing “Over the Hills and Far Away” (not the Zeppelin tune, the traditional Scottish song).

Steve’s offering the only thing he knows to offer: his service. Turns out that’s exactly what Maya wants – she asks Steve to make sure her husband didn’t die in vain – but it’s a far cry from helping with her baby daughter. But that’s not the point: the point is Steve puts himself out there, makes himself vulnerable and offers what he can. That’s what’s missing in the disconnects throughout the rest of the issue. When Diana is visited by the Patrons (which Scott artfully seeds throughout the issue), it’s a revelation. Here are characters that can actually see her, understand her, empathize with her. It’s a wonderful reminder that sometimes we just need someone to listen.

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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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12 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 9/14/16

    • We pulled “Hal Jordan vs. the Green Lantern Corps” but weren’t able to fit it into the Round-Up. And agreed — that was a fun, fun scene. I don’t know if I have much to say about it besides “Guy and Sinestro are a great comedic pair and I’d love to see them bounce off each other forever,” but yeah, a really fun, great looking issue.

      Green Lantern has never been my favorite franchise, but “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” is easily my favorite take on them in years, which is funny considering how lackluster Venditti’s previous run with the character was.

      • LOL I was mentioning to a friend that the scene really played for me because it strangely enough betrayed shared issues of inadequacy between Sinestro and Gardner, especially in the shadow of Hal Jordan. For all his bravado, Sinestro just wants to prove to Jordan that he is right. Meanwhile Gardner, who also puts on a brave face, still thinks he’s the lantern that gets the short end of the stick (which may be a call back to his stint on the red lanterns) while Jordan gets all the glory. I think this just may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

        Plus, the only confirmed emergency item Gardner carries is beer. How great is that?

        Yea Rebirth have done wonders for this and Green Arrow. Hope they keep it up.

  1. I think the thing that disappoints me about Colonel Kane’s turn is how it completely discards the street-level world of Elegy in favor of the most excessive comic book nonsense. Kane originally trained and outfitted Kate by calling in favors with a handful of black-ops buddies. It was small in scale, and relatively believable for a superhero origin. Here, it’s revealed that he was all along secretly training up an entire army of batmen with seemingly unlimited resources, at a clearance level “higher than the president.” I mean, can anything be as indicative of superhero excess than a helicarrier? Tynion did an admirable job of keeping Jake and Kate’s relationship central to their conflict, but it takes on a flavor here that misses a lot of what was so great about this character’s origin.

    • Drew and Spencer pretty much covered my problems with Detective Comics, actually. I’ve said it before but I absolutely loathe the fact that Tynion has simplified Jacob Kane into another short-sighted villain. Batwoman doesn’t have as storied of a history as Batman of course, but Kane’s new role as Bat villain is equivalent to Alfred turning evil on Bruce. It’s very disappointing to me.

      Secondly, I’m with Spencer on the lackluster feelings about Tim Drake’s “death.” It has become clear that Tim was gonna die and that the death itself would be a ruse a few weeks back, so the entire thing felt a little hollow for me. Regardless of the Mr. Oz reveal at the end of the book, we should’ve actually SEEN Tim’s courage in action as he fought off the drones. Spencer probably has a point that this arc might’ve been truncated to suit the upcoming crossover – once again proving that crossovers pretty much never work.

      • I actually don’t think a heel turn for Kane would have been out of the question — he had already lost Kate’s trust by the end of Elegy, and a military background does suggest that he’d have no problem killing, which would put him at odds with Batman. It’s really just a matter of scale. If he had been backing just one killer vigilante (a darker version of what he did with Bette Kane during Blackman and Williams’ run), it would have fit perfectly.

        Ultimately, I’m not sure there were really any benefits to the epic scope of his plan. I suppose it allowed for a few more punch-em-ups between our team and a bunch of disposable bat-soldiers, but it didn’t advance his relationship with Kate in any meaningful way. And come to think of it, this arc probably could have stood to lose a punch-em-up or two to slim down to five or six issues.

        Actually, my biggest beef of this arc is how Kate et al. just lucked into figuring out who the bad guys were. If the Colonel hadn’t been the big bad (or if Kate just hadn’t called him in), they might have actually had to do some detective work to discover where Batman was and who had him. As it is, they completely lucked into that information, which Tim was able to magically turn into more information using some technological hand-waving. I’m always complaining about a lack of detective work in Detective Comics, but damnit, the phrase “I was trained by the greatest detective in the world” feels entirely unearned on the last page of this issue. Maybe try showing us next time?

        • From my outside perspective, I don’t care too much about the scale thing. Yeah, Batwoman begun practical and low key, but so did Batman, when Year One was his origin. But that doesn’t mean that Grant Morrison’s Batman is bad for throwing that realism out the window.

          And I also don’t think Elegy can be used to justify this. Jake and Kate’s relationship had fractured by the end of Elegy, but it is important to put it in context. It fractured because Jake was keeping secrets about what happened to Kate’s sister in an attempt to protect Kate. Nothing about their falling out came down to Jake having any sort of dark side. He just had to make a difficult choice. And the idea of Jake being prepared to kill also isn’t a good fit, as Kate and Jake are just as prepared to kill as each other. Both are soldiers who are prepared to, but understand that you can’t in Gotham and have to play by Batman Rules – something Jake makes a point to remind Kate about. There isn’t enough in Elegy to use Elegy as justification for making Jake evil (maybe in the Batwoman series, which I didn’t get too far in. But not Elegy). The justification has to come from this story itself.

          What frustrates me about it is how it undercuts Batwoman’s own mythology, destroying her own mythology even as she is drawn closer to Batman’s, and what it does to a complex relationship.

          I’ll start with the relationship stuff, as that is simpler. Kate and Jake’s relationship was complex, new and interesting. Michael is right that Jake is Kate’s Alfred, but that also ignores the subtleties between them. They were a wonderful, complex relationship, and the exact sort of new stuff that I love. So turning that into yet another cliche ‘My mentor is secretly evil’ is not the best development of the dynamic

          And then there is the fact that it hurts the Batwoman mythology. When Rucka wrote Elegy, one of the great things was that unlike other Batman derivative characters, Batwoman was built around Batwoman. Batman’s actual presence is minor – his only role in the origin is to ineffectively attempt to save Kate from a mugger, only to arrive too late and see that Kate has already stopped him. Kate took the symbol of Batman, but she existed in her own world.
          It was an important idea, and her world was her own. She even focused on a very different part of Gotham, with her big enemy being the Religion of Crime – a supernatural force that Batman books so often ignore (even as Gotham has long had a supernatural side). Batwoman had her own mythology.
          It is similar to the stuff I discussed around Blue Beetle, and how disappointing I found the choice to make the Scarab magic again. How removing the Reach strips Jamie’s importance on the Blue Beetle mythology and makes him disposable. Meanwhile, an interesting comparison to this is the Young Avengers. I mean, Iron Lad was only a Young Avenger for six issues, but he will always be important simply because he was Kang, leading Iron Lad to feature in Hickman’s Avengers and all of that. But a better discussion point is Wiccan. Gillen made Billy Kaplan the Demiurge largely to give Billy something special, that wasn’t connected to others. And already, that is having a major effect. Not only is Ewing using the Demiurge in New Avengers, but the new Sorcerer Supremes book as Billy in it because he will become the Demiurge – the fact that he has been given such an important part of Marvel’s magical mythology makes him important.
          Batwoman’s importance came from the world she had around her. A world of characters that were connected only to her, and not to Batman. And Jake was the most notable character in that world. The world of Batwoman was amazing, and made Batwoman a character worth reading. Gutting it is not the thing Batwoman needs to have happen for long term health of the character.

          Is there anyone that can say that Batwoman is in a more interesting place after all the changes to her father? Especially considering every page I saw of him was really badly written. Detective Comics seem to have strong writing usually, but whenever Jake in on panel, every page seems to be writing him as a big, evil jerk who just happens to have a possibly good motive. There seemed to be no nuance, just a motive and a whole lot of ‘but regardless of motive, he is a dick’.

          Stuff like this is exactly why I’m not giving DC Rebirth another chance. It feels like exactly what I predicted

        • I definitely agree that Kate’s autonomy from the rest of the bat family is a huge loss. She refused his invitation to join Batman Incorporated — a strong choice at the time, but is more or less negated (without real explanation) here. I’ll also agree that Jake’s villainy isn’t well-handled.

          But I’ll stick to my guns that the idea of Jake being a villain could have worked with what we knew of him from Elegy. That he withheld Beth’s fate wasn’t just an act of protection — it was a dangerous omission from an active case they were working at the time. He betrayed her confidence in more ways than one, and that makes the notion that he has other secrets at least a bit more believable to me. (Incidentally, Batman neglecting to tell Kate that he suspected Jake was behind this should be a bigger deal, given that it’s pretty damn close to what Jake did way back in Elegy).

          I also don’t think a decorated Colonel and a woman who was dismissed from West Point as a cadet would have nearly the same relationship with killing. Sure, Jake emphasized the Batman rule to Kate, but that always seemed more like guideline for staying on Batman’s good side than an expression of Jake’s innermost morals. I have no problem believing Jake would condone killing in Gotham if he no longer respected Batman’s sovereignty over it — especially if he saw his targets as military targets. I mean, this issue is all about a drone strike he authorized — not a hard pill to swallow given that the character is a high-ranking US military official.

          Again, it would need to be written with much more subtlety and grace than it is here — and I do think the sheer scope of his operation strains credulity — but I could see the Colonel, at least as he was introduced in Elegy, pulling off something like this.

          Oh, and I’m not sure the Morrison analogy holds up. Morrison’s run embraced and riffed on excesses that had been introduced throughout Batman’s 70+ year history. There were some additions to that history, to be sure, but it all fit tonally with one period or another — nothing felt entirely new and strange to the character. Kate’s history is much, much shorter, and while I haven’t read her every appearance, I feel safe in saying that helicarrier showdowns are decidedly outside of her wheelhouse. I don’t mean to suggest that characters shouldn’t be allowed to change, but scaling up her scope comes at the expense of what made the character and her world unique. Batwoman started as this weird street-level detective battling a magical cult, now she feels like a female Batman, complete with the sprawling sidekick roster and absurd tech that title comes with.

        • I guess I don’t see enough in Elegy to root my arguments in Elegy. THere is a way to make Jake Kane villainous that would be consistent with Elegy. But I while you could do that while remaining consistent with Elegy, I don’t think I would ever say that it would be rooted in Elegy. Which isn’t to say that, written properly, you can’t make Jake Kane bad. Just that I think that the weight of justifying that choice would belong entirely to that narrative, and that Elegy is a poor choice of story to use to provide additional justification.

          With the Morrison comparison, I think it is fair to say that despite Morrison’s use of things throughout Batman’s history, he was working in a continuity that started with Year One and stayed mostly like that. What Morrison did was new, by virtue of colliding Batmen together in ways that they weren’t supposed to. We weren’t supposed to treat Silver Age Batman as having anything to do with Post-Crisis Batman, until all of a sudden we had to. Pushing things that far was going to the excess.

          And I think you could go for a similar level of excess with Batwoman. Yeah, her origin was about as realistic as Year One, but Batwoman could have a story involving falling helicarriers. I can actually think of a story very quickly that is full of superhero excess, but undeniably Batwoman. How about this? The Enchantress is angry at the Religion of Crime’s attempts to harness her powers to bring about a New Age of Crime, and so seizes control of a nearby, secret military facility designed as a last ditch effort if something happens in Gotham and Batman fails. The Enchantress seeks to use the fleet of helicarriers to destroy the Religion of Crime’s Holy City to rubble, which is of course Gotham. Batwoman has to work with Sgt Rock and Easy Company to stop Enchantress (using Sgt Rock as a counterpoint, the version of Kate that could have existed if she didn’t choose the path she actually chose). Big, epic stakes, but emphasises Batwoman’s points of difference – her military background and her focus on the supernatural side. Helicarrier showdowns fit Kate Kane a lot better when a demon goddess is on the helicarrier and you have Kate have to navigate the space between her life as a superhero and the life she could have had as a soldier. DOne right, it would still have all the things Elegy had, but Rise of the Batmen missed.

          Honestly, even before DC Rebirth came out, I was worried about Kate Kane being in this book. In general, I was excited for DC Rebirth to come out. I did feel it was going to be a step backwards from DC YOU (I was right, but was utterly surprised at the magnitude), but I was excited. Tom King was on Batman. Green Lanterns looked to be a great followup on Weirdworld. Jamie Reyes was returning as Blue Beetle. Lots for me to look forward to.

          And Detective Comics was one that caught my eye. I have wanted a Batfamily/Gotham Knights book, and we had one. I loved that Stephanie and Cassandra were going to have an actual book. I loves the choice to have Clayface as a wild card. But there were two things that jumped out as problems. Tim’s terrible new costume, and the choice of Batwoman. I think the part of Batwoman’s origin that you found missing was the absence of Batman. Batwoman was always supposed to be her own hero, outside the Batfamily. Placing her in the middle of the Batfamily is naturally going to feel off. A good Batwoman story should treat Batman as an outsider. That was why Elegy had so little Batman. That’s why she refused to join Batman Inc. That was part of Batwoman’s character. We both agree that it was a huge loss, but I think that is also the reason you felt that Rise of the Batmen felt wrong for a Batwoman story. Batwoman isn’t supposed to be part of the batfamily

        • Yeah, to make this work right in my head, I’ve been compartmentalizing Batwoman under Rucka and Williams as a separate entity from Batwoman in any other context. Matt’s right to think of Tynion’s Detective Comics as more of a Bat Family Team-Up, and we have to kind of concede that Kate would be part of that Bat Family if we want to buy into the logic of the book. If this is the kind of universe where Kate would not only join, but sorta lead, a Local Batman Incorporated, maybe it’s also a universe where Jake is some kind of Evil Nick Fury.

          All of which is to say that the premise of the series (or the arc at any rate) is grand enough and silly enough as to accommodate silly moves like Col. Cane having a clearance level “higher than the president.” Man… what does that even mean?

          Also, I’m wondering how this all plays into the meta-narrative of Rebirth, which it seems like they’re already hinting at unraveling. Tim is “removed” for being too loveable and raising too many questions about continuity, right? I suppose I don’t really object to DC playing with those larger meta-wankery tools, but christ it seems early in the cycle to be starting that up again. The only benefit I can really see to it is that it makes us pause a second to ask what is “real” and what’s “supposed” to be. Like, can Mr. Oz go about trying to retcon this misstep in Col. Cane’s legacy?

          The biggest problem with that question is: I don’t know how much I want to ask those questions in the context of Batwoman. I may have that series in more of a sacred cow space than Watchmen at this point…

        • Honestly, it seems to be a recurring thing about Detective Comics. Tynion has been making all sorts of changes to get everything to fit. I mean, from the pages I’ve seen, nearly everyone seems to have suffered this.
          Stephanie Brown went from someone who was Harper’s roommate, fancied Tim but hadn’t had a chance to do anything and didn’t really know Cassandra yet to someone who didn’t live with Harper, was in a long term relationship with Tim and is close to Cassandra.
          Which doesn’t really fit well for either Stephanie or Cassandra. After the Eternals, both characters had their world’s devastated, and were in the process of building their new lives. And then, with Detective Comics, it apparently skips ahead a hundred years, where they have already established themselves to the point where Harper, the character both of their new lives were connected to, has disappeared (Harper is, of course, temporarily retired. But just because she isn’t Bluebird, doesn’t mean her role as Steph’s roommate and Cassandra’s only friend isn’t an important part of where these characters are at the moment. And it probably doesn’t fit Tim either, but I haven’t been reading Teen Titans, so don’t know too much about that.

          I honestly doubt that all of this is in any way connected to Rebirth’s metanarrative, considering I think this is clear that this is what DC wants it to be. I don’t think they are prepping for a reveal that everything has been retconned so that Detective Comics makes sense. It comes down to Rebirth’s constant problem, the combination of ‘I want the DC Universe to go back to what it was 20 years ago instead of taking in the new and interesting ideas’ and ‘I’d rather not put the effort into actually fixing the problems DC has’.

          This is the exact same thing that led to them bringing back a character that had already been brought back. The exact same thing that led to to think that killing Superman was a better solution than writing Superman better. The classical iteration is that Stephanie dates Tim and is best friends with Cassandra, so that is what happens. The classical iteration is that Batman is the head of the Batfamily, and every other Bat is subordinate to him. So Kate is put in her place.

          The Mr Oz metanarrative stuff is simply going to continue what DC Rebirth did, and add back in past stories. I would bet most of the things foreshadowed to return in Rebirth but haven’t appeared yet, like the Justice Society, will be connected to that. As will the Watchmen stuff.

          The fact that Detective Comics, for all its strengths, makes no sense on a character level? That’s just Rebirth. Rebirth made very clear that character was at the bottom of DC’s list

  2. Suicide Squad: The first, and most annoying thing about Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is continuity. These days, when you want to start reading a book, you can pick it up and read. Works pretty well. There are starting points, marked by large #1s, that really make this easy, which is why both DC and Marvel love #1s these days (and why renumbering Action and Detective Comics was a bad idea). But if I wanted to start, for example, Inhumans, I could pick up the book, start reading and while I will be missing all sorts, The fact that the only important information is from the Inhumans book means that it isn’t too much effort to learn everything.

    Meanwhile, Suicide Squad is littered with ‘for the full story, read X’. This is annoying for many, many reasons. Like how the first issue of Suicide Squad expects you to have read some completely different series that has the Suicide Squad first appear. Or how often it relies on you reading Secret Origins, where writers write the important backstory of the stories instead of in the actual issues themselves. Or just the reliance on generally being aware of everything else. This is especially annoying when stories are designed to be much faster paced, with two issues being the maximum, and having utterly no space for anything.

    Ignoring that, Suicide Squad is an interesting book under Ostrander. Ostrander has a real talent with how easily he makes things feel real. It truly feels like a book informed by its time, with stories ripped from the headlines (though some stories are surprisingly relevant today, especially the white supremacy stuff, where the Suicide Squad have to infiltrate what is essentially a Donald Trump rally). This combines really well with the ‘man on a mission’ vibe and the comic book insanity to create something unique that helps make it stand out, even as so much story stuff is a mess. Hell, the best parts are generally around Waller’s struggles with politics, honestly.

    But it is clear that at the start, the book is unformed. In fact, it is surprising just how unformed it is. In some parts, that is fantastic. For example, Amanda Waller is interesting as she hasn’t yet become an iconic character. While in some ways, that lack of her legendary competence is a shame (without that competence, she often finds herself as a generic boss character), there is also moments where she gets to have a sort of humanity that iconic characters don’t get. WHile her as mission control is boring without her iconic competence, the moments where she gets to talk to people outside the squad itself, whether it is politicians or coworkers, is gold.
    But the premise is kind of borked form the start. A lot is people questioned why Katana was in the Suicide Squad movie, since she isn’t a supervillain. But this is even worse in the book. Between Flag, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade and Nemesis, the first arc is full of too many heroes, that distracts from the core of Suicide Squad’s premise. And it quickly adds characters like Black Orchid, Vixen or Shade the Changing Man. Too many people who are actually heroes distracts from the criminals, especially as the fast paced stories don’t give us a lot of time to spend with the villains.

    It is a unique book. Fascinating reading, though certainly of its time. It is amazing how comics have changed

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