DC Round-Up: Comics Released 9/21/16

dc-roundup54

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 7, Green Lanterns 7 and Superman 7. Also, we discussed Batman 7 and Nightwing 5 today, so check that out. And we’ll be talking about Trinity 1 on Monday, so come back for that! As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

slim-banner4

 Green Arrow 7

green-arrow-7Michael: After spending the majority of the previous arc as a (phony) traitor to Oliver, Benjamin Percy decided to give Emiko Queen some hero time. Green Arrow 7 is the second part of the “Sins of the Mother” arc where we see double the Emiko hero time in the past and in the present. I still think that the more substantive of these two stories is the one in the past where Emiko betrays and rescues Ollie (again/for the first time since its one year ago.)

Emiko has sold out Ollie to the Clock King because he’s the supplier to her drug watch thingy. When Oliver arrives to Clock King’s shop, Clock King attacks and monologues him about how “people are a lot like clocks.” Like, I get it…that’s his gimmick. But that kind of simplifying simile technique feels a little overdone and Bond villainy. Then again it’s extremely possible that Bond villain is what Percy and artist Stephen Byrne were going for as Clock King hovers over Ollie as he’s strapped to a clock death trap. Still, the whole thing isn’t played in a very tongue-in-cheek manner that you’d see from that kind of send-up so I’m a bit torn here.

bond

The present day story involves Emiko fighting a Japanese gangster who can turn into a dragon – which, why wouldn’t he just always be a dragon then? If nothing else, Stephen Byrne’s made-for-animation character renderings were a highlight here. Byrne actually made me feel sympathy for Emiko’s mother Shado, who typically is an uncaring robo-assassin.

slim-banner4

Green Lanterns 7

green-lantern-7Michael: I was excited for Green Lanterns and its buddy cop premise as soon as it was announced as part of the Rebirth line-up. I don’t think that it think that the book has lived up to my expectations until Green Lanterns 7 however. Sam Humphries has moved past the rough working relationship of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz in the first arc into greener pastures of self-respect shown here.

Simon Baz has kind of been an unpleasant asshole at times in this series, so it’s great to see him stop trying to act so cool while he’s at home with his family. In fact his fear of disappointing his mother combined with Jessica’s characteristic anxiety gives them a level playing field. Ronan Cliquet is also a welcome change of pace for this series. His clean lines and clear colors might be a little better suited for a GL book than past artists and he makes the goofy baking joy of Jessica and Baz palpable.glsHumphries’ characterization of Jessica and Baz gets nothing but high marks from me this time around. Green Lanterns 7 is Baz-centric but Jessica is equally developed as a character as she initially tries to run away then helps Baz. Jessica begs her ring to call Darkseid as a more desirable alternative to hanging with the Baz family. While Hell Towers and ragey Red Lanterns are more typical of a Green Lantern story, I couldn’t help but be charmed by a comic whose primary conflict was making sure the cookies were perfect for mom.

slim-banner4

Superman 7

superman-7Patrick: I was trying to describe this story to some friends at a bar last night, and I swear, I couldn’t get through a single sentence about it without using the words “cute” or “adorable.” I like to think I’ve got pretty well-developed critical skills, an eye for artistic detail and a decent vocabulary, but all the analytical centers of by brain are overwhelmed by the massively heartwarming quality of Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman 7.

After zipping around the globe helping his friends, Superman decides it’s time to lay down some roots in his adopted hometown of Hamilton County. The first four pages are such a whirlwind delight of Superman heroics – checking in with Batman (who gruffly asserts that he didn’t need or want the help), Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman (who all say thanks). Except for Batman’s adorable grumpiness, there’s no real conflict in these pages, just superpowered optimism, always characterized by Superman’s billowing red cape. Cue artist Jorge Jimenez:

thats-superman

So when Clark promises Lois and Jon that he’ll put Supermaning on hold to attend the county fair with them, it’s crucial that he offer the cape a symbol of that concession. What follows is largely a charming story about a family ingratiating themselves to a community they’ve been ignoring for too long. Clark meets Jon’s friends and teachers and even fishes for a job at the local paper (awwwwwwwww!). There’s an on-going story about some kids conspiring to rob the ticket booth, which is a hilariously small-time crime, but still catches Clark’s attention. To his credit, he’s pretty good about keeping his word on not suiting up until he notices one of the criminals is packing heat. Crucially, Tomasi and Gleason don’t actually let us see the inevitable heroics. We get confirmation when Lois does, hearing an account of the scuffle over the carnival employees’ walkie-talkies as the “Smiths” get on the roller coaster. Again, it’s a moment I can only describe as “adorable.” Also again, cue Jimenez:

adorable

That’s worth the price of admission, right there.

slim-banner4

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

Advertisements

6 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 9/21/16

  1. Superman: I love that Clark and Lois are raising Jon in the country. I know Metropolis is where Clark Kent truly established himself, and where Lois would no doubt rather be, but it just feels right for Clark to return to his roots and raise Jon with the same sort of upbringing and values HE was raised with.

    Phenomenal issue.

    Green Lanterns: Michael’s right — this is the best this title’s been. I’ve never connected as much as most to the big mythological Green Lantern stuff, but I think part of the problem is that it’s ALL the books have been doing for a decade now. Simon and Jessica’s partnership is a lot more interesting here than in battle, where they just kinda keep repeating the same few beats.

    I would love if the tone of this title just stuck close to this, and can’t wait until the next issue. What a charming book.

    Green Arrow: Totally digging the campy deathtrap Clock King. Very throwback, but a fun story, and I like the relationships Percy is building between Emiko and both the older mentors in her life.

    Cyborg: I wasn’t a fan of the Rebirth one-shot, but the first issue succeeds by taking the time to look at Victor as a person. He’s so rarely gotten to just be human in the New 52, but those are the moments he truly shines.

    I noticed that Vic is confirmed to be 16 when he became Cyborg, and there’s SO much missed potential there. A teenager growing up on the Justice League? A teenager that the League, in a lot of ways, pretty much raised as their own? There’s so much killer character work you could do with that and DC’s squandered it 😦

    • Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Superman are all, on some level, very unrelatable as superheroes. They are *so* powerful that some of their best stories have them not act but super-act; Do things that are beyond humanity.

      It’s interesting and improtant to note that all three of these issues succeeded because of the superheroes acting human. For the most part, all three of these stories were human stories and could have been told as sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, or even modern fiction and all could have been drama, action, or comedy.

      I hope DC realizes the success of these issues. I think a lot of what has lost DC their audience over the past 30 years was the reliant on the ‘super’ part of the hero instead of the ‘human’ part.

      • Not sure I agree. If you think of many of the stories that have represented DC’s problems, things like Identity Crisis and War Games, it is hard to think of the primary fault of them being about the ‘super’ part. They are utterly and truly about the human side of the characters, despite being iconic examples of DC’s faults. If you think about the complaints about the New 52, a lot of the complaints with the early Johns Justice League was that they were jerks – again, a focus on the character’s humanity. Just not good.

        I still remember reading Comicalliance’s review of the book they released for Superman’s 75th Anniversary (http://comicsalliance.com/superman-a-celebration-of-75-years-review-dc/). A fantastic example of how DC’s issue was less a question of refusing to focus on character, but a misunderstanding of the character itself.

        In fact, a lot of the notable successes of DC in the last 30 years have been when DC have shifted into a mythic, ‘Super’ vibe – Morrison’s JLA reinvigorated a weakened DC with a run built upon the idea of them being the Gods of DC (I think I read somewhere that Morrison patterned each hero to a Greek God, but may be wrong).

        Ultimately, DC’s problems are a lot more complex than reducing it to a choice of ‘Super’ or ‘Human’. Especially as both of the Big 2 have great eras focusing on each side of the equation. And that DC has had a changing leadership with different strengths and weaknesses

        • I’m not sure I completely agree with your disagreement. I thought GL was fine while they were fighting Red Lanterns and saving the world but a little clumsy. This, on the other hand, was great. Justice League in the New 52 has had huge event after huge event, most of which were severely lacking in payoff. Both Superman and Cyborg, JL members, had two very good comics today focusing on who they were as people (father and… umm, friend?) not who they were as superheroes.

          I don’t think switching to romance of family comics is the key, obviously. But I think that these comics that focused on the superheroes interacting like humans with real humans was pretty good, and I’m not convinced that they do that enough.

          Green Lanterns fighting space demons is cool. But if you don’t care about the character, it doesn’t matter too much.

        • I have no idea what Green Lanterns is like. I’m not reading any of Rebirth, and everything I read seems to vindicate my choice. Michael mentions in the Trinity write up that Rebirth seems to be a success, from where I’m sitting, DC doesn’t seem to have improved. It seems that you have the same thing as before. From a strict quality perspective, it seems like the only thing they used to have that they didn’t now is an Omega Men level masterpiece. But other than that, you seem to have a similar mix of quality levels that they had before. The only real differences seem to be the lack of originality, the baffling choices made to characters that aren’t straight white men and a Tom King who stops making masterpieces. So I can’t say what previous issues of Green Lanterns was like.

          But wasn’t one of the big criticisms of Geoff Johns’ Justice League was that everyone was jerks? That they spent too much time arguing with each other and being unlikable? That isn’t to say that it didn’t have other problems, but I’ve heard so many problems with that book based around how DC depicted their character’s humanity. In fact, the strawman depiction of the New 52 is ‘Everyone’s a jerk’. Which is a focus on the character’s humanity.

          Which is why I am suggesting that the issues DC have had are based on deeper misunderstandings. Maybe they have fixed those misunderstandings with Cyborg, Green Lantern and Superman (I guess that is supposed to make up for all the characters they seem to have completely misunderstood), but I don’t think it is as simple as saying that they are focusing on ‘human’ over ‘super’. I think if they are getting these characters right, it is probably due to something more complex.

          Though honestly, I think the SUperman books are on track for something really awful. I can’t see any solution to Superman’s problems that begins with ‘Let’s kill Superman off and return an old one’, as opposed to ‘let’s write Superman better’, working. I feel once they have successfully juiced all the nostalgia of ‘it is the Superman you love’ and move past that story, every problem is going to return.
          And as Rebirth continues, I don’t know how you can reconcile ‘New 52 Superman was a hero the deserves to be honoured and remembered’ and ‘New 52 Superman is a fundamental mistake that needed correcting, alongside the rest of Doctor Manhattan’s changes’. I think the Superman books are on track for something nasty

  2. Suicide Squad/Deadshot: As part of my reading of the classic Suicide Squad, I’ve reached an important turning point. Where Kim Yale joined the writing team alongside Ostrander. And honestly, it seems to be a big change. With her first issue, the book feels more… complete. Ostrander was amazing a balancing that tone right, but constantly let everything down with all sorts of messy storytelling. Yale seems to fix that.

    The book still has too many heroic characters (and, of course, has a habit of introducing more. Yale’s first issue also has the first appearance of Oracle), but it also seems to be understanding the groove a lot more. Even before Yale appears, there is some great stuff, like the fun of Captain Boomerang being called out for his moonlighting as Mirror Master. But the big story is a pretty decent political story of blackmail. Amanda Waller gets to prove why she is the Wall as she manipulates her way out of a rock and a hard place, before Flagg messes everything up, leading to a scene that is probably the first great character moment – a true sign of how messed up Deadshot is. Flagg and Deadshot’s actions make the Suicide Squad public, and forces Waller to be even smarter in her attempt to do so – something she does with a very, very fun plan and great blackmail. And the best part is that the changes to the SUicide Squad do change the rules of the Suicide Squad – no longer does a mission release you, but instead it reduces your sentence. A small change, but one that both allows a more constant cast, and removes that weird thing where you have villains like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang sticking around for their own reasons despite still being villains.

    Meanwhile, alongside this, there is the Deadshot miniseries. Suicide Squad is a book that feels great for its period, but of its period. The great thing about the Deadshot miniseries is that unlike the main book, there is a singular story, and you get a sense of progression the main book often lacks. Especially considering it takes the chance to go deep into Deadshot. I honestly really like what Ostrander and Yale do here with Deadshot. A small town generational saga built around a man whose only ever loved two people. Deadshot’s sociopathic nature combined with the tragedy around him makes for an interesting story. Were it not for the fact that I currently trust neither DC editorial or Warner Brothers, I would love to see either a miniseries or a movie based on this miniseries, but creating a modern day update they really leans into the noir. Will Smith would kill.

    ________________________________________________

    DC Bombshells: I’ve been meaning to catch up on this, so have restarted this alongside my other reading. I’m honestly surprised that this is still going, and that DC did conclude it as DC Rebirth started. Because it goes against everything DC is currently about. It is female focused, utterly queer and built around producing a new vision of DC. Everything that DC Rebirth stands against. The closest thing you can complain about it from a diversity standpoint is race, due to the fact that many of the race swaps still keep characters European. But while the leads are lily white, it does its best to fill the sides with characters like Doctor Light and Amanda Waller.

    The idea is quite simple, in that it combines Superheroes, World War II and Bombshell art to create a fun, pulpy story filled with a joyful sense of adventure. It uses a cast from around the DC Universe, but prioritising female characters. With the exception of a cameo from Hal Jordan, the only male characters of note are Steve Trevor, Lex Luthor and John Constantine.

    And great fun it is. There are some slight problems. It is a highly musical book, but unlike books like Black Canary and Jem and the Holograms, it doesn’t do a good job depicting the music visually. So having characters, especially Mera and Zatanna, singing everywhere, doesn’t have the effect it is supposed to. And the insistence of having characters have a strong ‘Do Not Kill’ rule is weird in World War II, especially when the book finds so many other ways to show off the compassion that serves as the book’s central thesis.

    But those problems are pretty secondary to how fun the book is. There is a strong threat, through the combination of the Nazis and Tenebris (who also seems to be the Joker), and constant moral choices (it is actually kind of impressive how often moral choices come into play. Generally simple, but such choices are the bedrock of good storytelling). But this works hand in hand with a real flirtatious dialogue, built around characters enjoying both agency and the other characters, and strong visuals that really take advantage of the concept of the Bombshell art style. And we get all sorts of fun like ideas like James Bondian spy stuff in elaborate parties hosted by Catwoman and giant Swamp THings in Russia

    Meanwhile, the characters are actually very well done. Batwoman acts as the darker (though in the bright, compassionate world of Bombshells, she is still very bright) character, whose quips hide a steely hatred of the people who want her exterminated (Bennet rightly uses Kate’s sexuality and her Jewish Heritage well, which is great as her Jewish side is often ignored).
    Wonder Woman has a mostly traditional backstory, but the fact that it exists in the context of a series full of other woman of equal standing removes a lot of what makes her backstory so problematic from a feminist perspective, as does the choice for her to leave to fight Nazis instead of the more traditional ‘ambassador to Man’s World’. Free from the problematic elements, she is a character whose naivety is balanced with endless compassion and an implacable sense of righteousness. And the choice to give Steve Trevor PTSD is the only interesting thing that has ever happened to that character.
    Supergirl and Stargirl are a fantastic example of playing around with backstories, becoming Russian sisters who confront the evils of Soviet Russia and rebel, even as they remain committed to fighting the evil of the Nazis. As of the first two story arcs, they have less characterization than backstory, but the backstory is strogn that I can’t wait to see what happens as they develop into characters.
    Mera is wonderful as the most flirtatious Bombshell. She has a true love of life, and makes a point to enjoy herself in a way that none of the others do. I love the idea of her destroying German U-Boats, then flirting with sailors as she discusses their wives and girlfriends and promising gifts from the deep for each and every girl. Probably my favourite at the moment, due to that combnation of her joie de vivre and the hints of a past she is running away from.
    Zatanna as the prisoner trapped inside the Joker’s Daughter’s cabaret, forced to serve her and Tenebris while whistfully wishing for the exciting life she had before is great, especially her flirtatious reminiscience with John Constantine (currently a chain smoking, tie wearing rabbit after his attempt to infiltrate Berlin went wrong and Zatanna was forced to deal with him).
    And then you have Catwoman, Huntress, Waller and others, who have not yet had enough chance in the spotlight. A pretty great cast.

    So far, my only issue is with Harley and Ivy. Harley is always a difficult character to get right, and the book really needs to reveal its hand with what Harley is going to do and how she is connected to the Joker/Tenebris.

    Still, the book is actually great fun. Really enjoying it. It is hard to imagine that today’s DC would be interested in publishing a book like this, a book that is actually forward thinking, progressive and new. But thank god this wasn’t a casualty of Rebirth

    ________________________________________________

    Batman – the Telltale Game: The second episode, Children of Arkham, of this came out, and it continues to be interesting. In some respects, it is a little reversion to mean. Some of the stuff I praised last episode for being new and fresh becomes slightly less original. The role of technology is still important, but downplayed – Blockbuster literally smashes the Bat-drone when it tries to do anything. The idea of Batman as purely an extension of Bruce Wayne’s mission is also downplayed, as the Batman stuff is treated more as ‘a Batman story highly connected to Bruce Wayne’ than ‘a Batman story where Batman exists to further Bruce Wayne’s goals’. And the Catwoman dynamic becomes notably more flirty. Last time, their flirtation was entirely subtext. They flirt by through challenging each other on a character level. Here, the attraction is much more explicit, and the dynamic is much more ordinary.

    And yet, for all the ways it becomes more like a traditional Batman game, in other ways in completely explodes. What happened between Batman and Catwoman last episode cannot be put back in the bottle, which keeps their interactions unique. But more important is the other ways the game makes things feel different. The Children of Arkham are a fresh twist on the Rise of the Supervillains. Supervillainy rises out of Bruce Wayne’s world, not Batman’s world. And the game still focuses so much more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, making you have to think about political donations just as much as you think about criminal power vacuums. Hell, a major fight scene is actually Bruce Wayne in a bar fight, instead of Batman.

    And, of course, there is the attacks on the Wayne Legacy. At first, I thought these attacks were a lie. I was expecting this to be some plan by Hugo Strange or something. But no. This episode wants to make very clear that they are all true. And honestly, after Alfred confirms it, it is hard to think of a satisfying way to say it isn’t. Actually, truly committing to the idea that this attack is real is massive. Bruce Wayne has found out that his family history is dark. That the Wayne’s aren’t good people, and that his privilege was built on the backs of villainy. That Bruce isn’t trying to continue a legacy of good works, but is instead needing to redeem his name that by all rights should be mud. You don’t become a billionaire fairly, and Bruce Wayne is complicit in the sickness that destroys Gotham. Batman is no longer a force of justice/vengeance. He is a force of redemption (and this actually adds something quite heroic. Bruce Wayne will never get absolution, because it is entirely anonymous. And that is what true redemption is. Change without expectation of forgiveness). For all the ways that this episode was more typical, the sheer audacity to actually commit to this idea still creates a Batman story like none other.

    But that isn’t the true masterstroke. The true masterstroke comes at the end, in the climax at the Debate. And because of what the masterstroke is, I am going to put a big spoiler warning here.

    Batman has made an alliance with Catwoman. She’s proven you should trust her, at least for the Children of Arkham crisis, and she is your partner. There is a real sense that something lasting can be made. Both professionally and romantically. You fight together, as a perfect team. And then things go wrong. In the chaos of battle, you have to make a choice. The Penguin is attacking Harvey Dent, your friend, while Catwoman is being overwhelmed. You have to make a choice.

    And I created Two Face.

    I created Two Face.

    This is a perfect example of the sheer power of an interactive narrative like this. I have no idea what will happen in future episodes. But what I know for certain is that I had the chance to save Harvey. If I chose to save Harvey, he wouldn’t have been scarred (that may happen in another episode, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am responsible for what happens here). I know what Harvey’s future is. I know what it means for him to be scarred. And yet, I sentenced Harvey to his horrid fate to save Catwoman.

    Catwoman deserved my help. She was my partner, and by virtue of being my partner, she deserved my help. But not only was she my partner, in joining, she did far more than anyone should expect of her. In fact, her choice to help Batman is much more meaningful than Batman’s own choice to save the debate. It is dangerous for her to take part in a way it isn’t for Batman. And to abandon Catwoman is to commit a transgression just as bad to her. Last time, I described Catwoman as a character who will never be queen, but is always fighting to be more than a pawn. To betray that need is a gross violation of Catwoman. She deserved to be saved.

    But so did Harvey.

    I created Two Face.

    This is the great power of interactive storytelling. Especially when combined with a franchise with such history. The knowledge that I am responsible for what I know will be a path of horrors is powerful. Batman – the Telltale Game proves that not only does it want to be new and original, it wants to be powerful and impactful by using the tools only a video game can

What you got?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s