DC Rebirth Week Two in Review

Each week here on Monkeys Fighting Robots, we are looking at every DC Rebirth title and tracking its progress. Books will be rated on a scale of “Buy It”, “Borrow It” or “Bin It”.

Wonder Woman: Rebirth (Greg Rucka, Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, Liam Sharp, Jeremy Colwell, Laura Martin, and Jodi Wynne)
Rucka’s return to Wonder Woman was always going to be interesting. His earlier run on the character is one of the most celebrated takes on the character in recent memory. To have him return, must have been similar to the experience that Daredevil readers had when Miller came back to do Born Again. Spinning out of the revelations emerging from the Darkseid War, it appears that Diana may have a twin brother and the creative team take this retcon, turning it into the driving force of the entire story. Diana, like her former sidekick Donna Troy, has had an issues with definitive origins of late. As the Princess of the Amazon’s herself notes, “the story is always changing”. DC Rebirth seems to be on many levels looking to engage in a meta-textual discussion about their characters. Whether it be retcons or the incorporation of Watchmen-inspired narratives into their works, DC has become quite self-aware in recent years. The series will need to appropriate balance the meta-narrative and personal story-beats careful if it going to succeed. Structurally, this series is apparently going to take a page from the Arrow-verse playbook and feature a flashback “Year One” story-line every second issue. How the two story-lines will intersect and whether this will impact the flow of both stories or whether the two bi-monthly schedule will alleviate this.

Recommendation:  Borrow It

Aquaman: Rebirth  (Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Oscar Jimenez, Mark Morales, Gabe Eltaeb, and Pat Brosseau)
Few characters are as equally revered and mocked as Arthur Curry. Geoff Johns spent an entire run attempting to dispel the myths that had developed within the pop cultural hive-mind. Apparently Dan Abnett felt he didn’t do a good enough job as most of this issue seems like an attempt to replicated John’s first issue except with a metric ton of exposition. We learn Aquaman has begun opening diplomatic relations with the surface world and that some fifth column-inspired insurgents are none too happy about it. The conclusion does reveal the involvement of a classic Aquaman villain that should delight old fans and provide a solid foundation for new readers to follow his work.

Recommendation: Borrow It

The Flash: Rebirth (Joshua Williamson, Carmini Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, and Steve Wands)
Never has this book felt more like an episode of the CW TV series it inspired than with this one issue. Given that The Flash is one of the hottest superhero shows on television, that’s probably a good thing. Barry Allen, the fastest man alive (depending on who you ask) shows us the events of the DC Rebirth special from his own perspective. We already saw most of the emotional pay-off concerning Barry’s reunion with Wally West last time, but we do get to see a bit more of their dynamic develop along with more hints as to the wider DC Rebirth endgame. New antagonist Godspeed (still a stupid name) begins to make his presence known, but we will have to waiting to see if he is worth adding to the pantheon of great villains in the Flash’s rogues gallery. Not else much to say on this one, a solid comic with great artwork and touching character moments. It might, however, be worth investigating how many times they have used that particular pose for the cover of an issue of The Flash.

Recommendation: Buy It

Detective Comics #934 (James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, and Marilyn Patrizio)
This book has a fascinating premise that sees cousins-in-arms Batman and Batwoman train a group of young heroes when various members of Batman’s network of allies are targeted by a mysterious organization. Kate Kane had previously headed a run on Detective Comics before the New 52, yet despite existing as part of the wider Bat-family of books, she has rarely be woven into their collective narrative. This book will likely raise her profile and establish Batwoman as a character. The newly formed team also brings Cassandra Cain, Orphan and Stephanie Brown, Spoiler, back to the forefront of the DCU. Their presence was greatly missed over the last few years and  brings with it the diversity and complexity of character that is much needed in the boys club of superhero comics. Interestingly, the group recruits Clayface which adds an extra dimension of conflict in the team as ex-villains are want to do. The one odd creative choice is the inclusion of Tim Drake, Red Robin on the team. Admittedly, he is assigned a second-in-command function, but he is less in need of guidance than the other fledgling heroes. Furthermore, while he retains the Red Robin moniker his costume has been redesigned to resemble his Robin costume from the 90s, reducing his visual distinctiveness as a character. It would have been better, if anything, to return to the pre-New 52 design that he sported during his excellent Red Robin solo-series. There are elements of the sublime Batman Incorporated in the set-up. It’s good to see that Detective Comics can actually serve as a forum for interesting mysteries, rather than be related to a mere secondary title. A book of its pedigree and longevity needs a distinctive voice and direction to ensure its place in pull-lists. The new status quo is a strong start, but it remains to be seen whether it will stick.

Recommendation: Buy It.

Action Comics #957 (Dan Jurgens, Patrick Zircher, Tomeu Morey, and Rob Leigh)
I am still not sure how the idea of having the pre-New 52 Superman return to take the place of his New 52 counterpart won editorial approval, but it did and now we are stuck with it. Good stories often emerge from an outlandish concept, but for any outsiders looking in, what a mess this must seem. This issue features the much hyped clash between Clark Kent and Lex Luthor who has adopted the Man of Steel’s symbol for his own. Much like Otto Octavius, Lex believes he can be the superior Superman that Metropolis needs and Clark takes exception to that. What ensues is an uncharacteristically brutal exchange between the two that amounts to little more than two grown adults comparing their man-hoods. One would have hoped that with the return of this classic Superman the hope and admiration that he inspires would come with it, but alas no. It’s a comic that is very much inspired by the 90’s and not in an endearing fashion. There is potential for a good story about how the various characters detail with Superman’s legacy, but it is squandered. There are a number of twists, but rather than inform or hint at an interesting story, they simply exist for sheer shock value and to make reference to the original the Death of Superman story-line. The Death of Superman was an important story within the cultural hive-mind, a story which was given renewed attention through its incorporation into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but we need to come out from its shadow.

Recommendation: Bin it

Overall it was a good week for DC’s new initiative, but there is a sense that the line may be stressing under the weight of it’s own desire to engage in a meta-textual discussion about itself . Book of the Week goes to Detective Comics for its engaging premise and poignant character moments. The dishonorable mention goes to sister-series Action Comics for continuing to live in the past. Next week’s line up finally sees the true return of the Titans and show provide interesting insights into the future of the line. Until then, happy reading.

Gary Moloney
Gary Moloney
Some would say that he is a mine of information, too bad most of it is useless. You can read his own comic work over on garymoloney.tumblr.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_gearoid.