Aquaman #17 Review

Aquaman #17 Review

This Means War-Head

Dan Abnett (W), Scot Eaton (P), Wayne Faucher (I), Gabe Eltaeb (C)

Cover by Andrew Hennessy and Gabe Eltaeb

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

          Things have been pretty complicated lately in the life of Arthur Curry, king of the underwater realm of Atlantis. In what honestly was the best Aquaman story I have ever read, Atlantis has been on the brink of all-out war with the United States. This was spurred onwards by the shadow organization known as N.E.M.O, who committed a number of false flag operations against the United States, disguising themselves as Atlantean military.

Leading N.E.M.O was none other than Black Manta, who killed the previous Fisher King of N.E.M.O. and assumed the mantle. Aquaman was narrowly able to track down the organization and present proof to the United States government that it was not Atlantis instigating conflict with America. This was not without casualties, as a number of the Atlantean royal council were killed by N.E.M.O as well as the U.S military.

In the aftermath, Arthur’s aquatelepathy has been misbehaving. This has been caused by a mysterious entity known as Warhead, a telepathic cyborg war machine who has been manipulating students and faculty at Beckman University to perform missions for him.

This issue opens up with a woman being forced to open fire upon Aquaman. He disarms her, and his telepathy begins to misfire once more. A drone begins shooting at him, and Warhead appears, gunning down the king of Atlantis.

We are taken two hours beforehand, when Aquaman arrived at the U.N headquarters located in Manhattan. He meets up with a security detail which insists on protecting him. His telepathy begins misbehaving. Inside, a mass of Aquaman fans have formed. They have fallen in love with the king for his exploits in halting war between Atlantis and the U.S.

Mera, Murk, and others of Aquaman’s retinue watch on from television in Amnesty Bay as Arthur begins his U.N address. As he starts, we see Warhead activating his own telepathy, and Aquaman sees a bleeding soldier in the crowd. The soldier disappears, and Arthur continues his address.

Afterwards, he sees the soldier outside and leaves the security detail behind. The detail begins to panic. Arthur finds the soldier outside Beckman college, and he sees a war zone all around him. It all disappears, and a man with a gun begins firing upon Aquaman while apologizing. He disarms the man, and the man points Arthur in the direction of the campus lab.

He’s attacked once more upon entering the lab area, and he disarms this assailant as well. This man tells Aquaman the name of Warhead, informs him of his telepathic abilities, and tells Arthur that his aquatelepathy makes him “receptive to contact but resistant to control” by Warhead.

From here, the woman from the beginning of the comic arrives, and we are in the “present.” The security detail surrounds Beckman, as Aquaman attacks Warhead. He pleads with the machine-man to stop through telepathy while attempting to apprehend him.

Warhead grabs Aquaman’s head, and Aquaman finds himself in a hellish war zone. An explosion flings him across the landscape, and he becomes convinced that what he is seeing is real as the comic concludes.

Dan Abnett is, hands down, one of the best writers working right now. His work on Aquaman and Titans is incredible, and he has few peers at either of the big two companies.

This story is interesting, and it seems to be leading in a very intriguing direction in regards to Warhead’s intent and origins. I’m genuinely not sure where this is going, and I am excited to find out.

I’m not sure what the point of the time skip was other than to accommodate the fact that Aquaman was at Beckman at the end of the last comic. It wasn’t confusing, but it didn’t really serve that grand a purpose either.

There is a bit of a lull in and around the section where Aquaman gives his address. The segments back in Amnesty Bay don’t really add anything, but they’re not particularly funny either. We’re also not made privy to much of Aquaman’s address, and I’m actually a little disappointed by that. I’m sure it would have been very interesting given the insane political atmosphere that surrounds Atlantis in DC Comics.

This story also has the unfortunate role of taking place after “Deluge.” That really was the best Aquaman story I’ve ever read, no hyperbole, surpassing even Geoff Johns’ impressive tenure with the king of Atlantis. It had political intrigue, Aquaman’s greatest villain Black Manta, and palpable tension that carried through from one issue to the next. It even served to provide interesting commentary about the War on Terror via the subplot with the Atlantean terror cell known as the Deluge. It also solidly characterized Arthur Curry and gave him a defined personality. This is something that even Geoff Johns struggled with back during his stint on Aquaman.

All this being said, this puts “Warhead” in the unfortunate position of not having grabbed me like “Deluge” did. It may yet get to that level of brilliance, but it hasn’t arrived yet. This by no means makes this a bad comic, but it does give “Warhead” the same uphill battle that Charles Soule faced when taking over Daredevil after Mark Waid left the title. You’re left wondering, “Can this be as good?” The difference of course is that this still has the same brilliant writer, and, like Charles Soule has since done on Daredevil, I’m sure Mr. Abnett will wow me yet again.

The art is quite good on this book. Eaton, Faucher, and Eltaeb have given life to a striking and action-packed story. I dig the design of Warhead. He’s reminiscent of 90’s comics without dipping into the ridiculous hypermasculine excess of the 1990’s in comic books. The name, Warhead, is pretty reminiscent too, though I will say I’m not a fan of the moniker.

As I said, Dan Abnett is rocking this comic book as well as the comics world at large. This a great book, and I have full faith in him maintaining the high quality I have come to expect of him.

Final Score: 8/10

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The Kamandi Challenge #1

The Kamandi Challenge #1

Honoring the King

Part 1: “The Rules”

Dan Didio (W), Keith Giffen (W) (A), Scott Koblish (A), Hi-Fi (C)

Part 2: “K is for ‘Kill!’”

Dan Abnett (W), Dale Eaglesham (A), Hi-Fi (C)

Cover by Bruce Timm

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $4.99

          This year would have been the 100th birthday of Jack “the King” Kirby, the writer and artist in part responsible for the creation of characters like Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, the New Gods, Etrigan the Demon, and, notably, Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth.

Admittedly, I’m not too acquainted with Kamandi. I may be the B-List Defender, but even I have my limits. The premise of the character is that he lives in the far future where an apocalypse has occurred. Humanity has been all-but wiped out, and Earth is primarily occupied by intelligent, anthropomorphic animal-people. The world is filled with danger, and he has to survive in this hostile environment. He is often partnered with a dog-man named Dr. Canus. Essentially, it’s like Planet of the Apes, but Charlton Heston is a teenager and the apes aren’t just apes.

To honor the 100th birthday of one of the most important and influential comic book artists to have ever lived, DC Comics has put out the Kamandi Challenge. For those who don’t know the details, this is a 12-part series wherein each issue is put together by a different creative team. Every book has a cliffhanger ending, and the next team has to pick up where the previous writer left off and resolve the cliffhanger. The first issue has a microcosm of this idea, as it is a story in two parts crafted by two different creative teams. The first part is Didio, Giffen, and Koblish, and the second part is Abnett and Eaglesham.

How does it hold together? Let’s find out.

The tale opens with a young man living in a suburban home waking up to be informed by his grandmother that he is late for school. He runs out the door and across town to try to catch the bus, passing townsfolk like Mr. Kirby, a delightful homage to the King himself. He’s stopped by a police officer before jaywalking, when the sky literally begins falling. From the hole in the blue come warriors in odd garb armed with high-tech weaponry. The townsfolk around the boy suddenly reveal their own laser weaponry and try to fight off the invaders.

The boy is ambushed by one of the warriors, revealed to be some sort of rat-man. Mr. Kirby subdues the creature and tells the boy to run home. Mr. Kirby is also revealed to be some sort of robot. The boy makes it home with the world burning around him. His grandmother brings the boy into the house and sends him through some sort of portal, promising it will take him to safety, explain to him what is going on, and help him find his parents. His grandma then reveals to be a robot herself and detonates to cover the boy’s escape.

The portal shows the boy visions of animal-people and tells him a myriad of things like “Find your parents,” “God Watchers”, “Save the World,” and “Remember Command D.” The boy is muttering “Remember Command D” when he is awoken by a tiger-man, and the creature dubs him “Kamandi” as a result. The creature then grabs Kamandi and tosses him in a slave carriage. He’s taken to an arena, where he is put face-to-face with a massive gorilla monster. This is where the first story ends.

The second begins with the crowd of tiger-people cheering on the violence and Kamandi being grabbed by the monster. He escapes being consumed by gouging out a pair of its eyes (it has four eyes, two in each socket, oddly). Kamandi discovers the walls of the arena are electrified, and he lures the creature into punching the wall. It gets shocked and falls. Kamandi is restrained once again and taken to the tiger prince.

The tiger prince, Tuftan, is talking to Dr. Canus, whom cannot explain how and why Kamandi is so smart and can speak. Dr. Canus is left to study Kamandi, and the last boy manages to convince the dog-doctor to listen to him. He explains the events which led him here, as much as he can remember them, and Dr. Canus begins taking Kamandi around their city.

Kamandi recognizes a symbol on one of the buildings, but Canus won’t allow him to get near the structure. Eventually, the king of the city, Caesar, arrives in a tank with a retinue of leopard and elephant slaves. He is also hauling a massive nuclear bomb. Recognizing it as an atomic bomb, Kamandi panics and runs into the aforementioned forbidden building. Inside are a myriad of weaponry created by humanity. He is attacked by flying jackdaw warriors, and he manages to hold them off until Canus comes to the rescue. Kamandi is then taken back to where the city is assembled around Caesar. The king promises to activate the device so they can “hear the gods speak.” A display on the bomb says that it will detonate in five minutes, and the comic ends.

This was a great book. The pacing was fast, the action was exciting, and it aptly established how this world functions without being bogged down with dull exposition. Also, the five-dollar price tag actually gets you significantly more story in this issue, which is very important (I’m looking at you, Marvel).

The Tarzan-Meets-Planet of the Apes vibe of the setting and story is a lot of fun. It’s pulpy-sci-fi awesome, and that is right up my alley. I also adored the inclusion of Jack Kirby as a character, and that he turned out to be a robotic badass.

Giffen was the perfect artist with whom to start off this story. I learned back in the New 52’s Omac (another Kirby original), that his art is an astounding recreation of the King’s style. I loved it. Eaglesham’s artwork follows it up with more of a conventional comic book styling, and it looks really good too. The design of Tuftan and Caesar’s armor looks really cool, and I loved the hulking gorilla-monster.

The way in which the whole comic manages to hold together despite the two creative teams bodes well for the rest of the series. It didn’t feel like two tales stapled together. It felt like a single, coherent story.

The storytelling style as well as the dialogue does harken back to comics of old. There’s a lot of one-liners, characters behave in larger-than-life manners, and there’s a lot of people speaking their thoughts out loud. I liked that a lot too, as Kirby pioneered this sort of style. It manages to avoid the pitfall of being overly-expository and bogging down the pace. This is a common flaw in older comics, and I’m glad they avoided it in their attempts to go retro.

Also (spoiler), the symbol on the building full of human weapons is the Brother Eye symbol of Omac. I’m really excited to see how that comes back. Omac is another character who originally lived in the future, so maybe the One Man Army Core will show up in this? I hope so. We’ll have to wait and see.

We aren’t cued in too much to Kamandi’s personality yet. He seems a bit cocky, but, beyond that, we don’t get to see too much of what he is like. That seems to be a consequence of the constantly-moving tale, but the pacing is so good that this detail isn’t really too much of a problem in this comic.

The dynamic of the tigers viewing humanity as inferiors while simultaneously worshipping their weapons like holy artifacts is an interesting irony. As a sci-fi fan, that detail really stuck out for me, and I dug it.

This was a great start to this ambitious foray on DC’s part. I liked it a lot, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. Check it out, especially if you want some old sci-fi action and a throwback to the comics of yore.

Final Score: 8/10

Titans #6 Review

Titans #6 Review

Jason Takes… wait, Red Hood’s not in this book.

Dan Abnett (W), Lee Weeks (A), John Kalisz (C)

Cover by Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

          I haven’t really covered Titans other than my review of their Rebirth issue and my endorsement of them on my Best 5 Comics of 2016 list. This is a great book, and I highly recommend the story thus far. As such, I felt I should cover an issue again this week, and it’s a good thing too. Why? Well, we’ll cover that momentarily.

So, a refresher on Dan Abnett’s Titans. Of all of the Rebirth titles, this one most takes place in the shadow of DC Universe: Rebirth, though it does also follow up on Dan Abnett’s Titans: Hunt as well. Wally West, this being red-headed Wally West who was formerly the Flash, has reappeared, brought back by his mentor and close friend, the other Flash, Barry Allen. He has reunited with his former team, the Titans. He informed them that they lost ten years of their lives somehow, and this is the reason for a lot of the differences in the New 52 DC Universe (i.e. younger heroes, darker characters, and less camaraderie between said heroes). The Titans reformed after this, the lineup consisting of Wally himself, Nightwing, Donna Troy, Arsenal, Tempest, Omen, and maybe Bumblebee.

Soon after reforming the team, they accidentally awoke the Magician, who, as it turns out, is the one who cast Wally West out of our dimension and into the Speed Force in the first place. After a tough struggle, the team was able to defeat the villain. Omen, in search of who removed the notorious ten years of their lives, entered the mine of the Magician and got one word: “Manhattan.”

In this issue, we figure out that the Titans took this to mean that they should go to Manhattan and make that their new headquarters to investigate why this word was on the Magician’s mind. The story opens up with Wally, Arsenal, and Donna taking on a powerful, mega-sized, metahuman. The fight is fairly brief, with Arsenal delivering the knockout blow. Wally chastises Roy on his recklessness and the fact that they destroyed a couple of cars when the metahuman fell.

Then, Superman appears. He tells them that he was checking up on the threat they just neutralized, and he clearly recognizes Wally West. He then leaves, but Wally wants to know how he recognizes him. He runs after Superman, and Superman takes it to mean that Wally wants to race again.

Meanwhile, Nightwing, Omen, and Tempest are trying to accomplish the necessary paperwork to obtain a base in Manhattan. This is actually their storyline in this issue, and it’s a lot more entertaining than it sounds. After some conversation with Ms. Cendali, their real estate agent (I guess, I’m not fluent on this subject), they reveal their invisible jet, then make it properly visible for her.

Wally finally catches up with Superman in Iowa, and he asks how Clark recognizes him. Superman explains how he’s not really from this world either. The two catch up a bit, and Superman encourages the Flash to keep trying to get Linda Park back. He also divulges that he has a son because he trusts Wally that much. They then decide to race back to Manhattan.

We next see Donna and Arsenal on a date in a small diner. There’s not too much to say about this scene, but it is pretty damn cute. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

We get a brief scene at a company called Meta Solutions. Bumblebee and her partner, Mal Duncan, go into the headquarters. We see that the owner of Meta Solutions is none other than the notorious Teen Titans rogue, Psimon.

Superman and the Flash return to Manhattan and rejoin the other Titans. Here, we finally get to see what their new HQ looks like, and it is the classic Titans Tower. The comic ends with Superman endorsing the new Titans.

I’m glad I reviewed this issue, because I loved it, and I think it may be the best one of the series so far. After the admittedly overlong Magician story arc, this issue takes a moment to catch its breath and establish how this new Titans team is going to function. It sets a nice tone for the book going forward.

Each of the plots in this story work perfectly. Superman and the Flash’s reunion is heart-warming and uplifting. The paperwork plot is really funny. The date between Roy and Donna is pretty funny too as well as being really cute. Plus, the foreshadowing with Psimon and Bumblebee shows some cool stories yet to come.

The reunion with Wally and Clark gives us some idea of how the Rebirth idea works. Wally’s return implied that this is essentially the same Earth as pre-Flashpoint Earth; it’s just missing ten years. However, this Superman comes from a different Earth altogether. The fact that Wally doesn’t recognize this Clark specifically shows that this isn’t the same Earth at all, or maybe this Clark actually comes from yet another Earth. It’s still a bit of a confusing mess, but this part of the comic at least narrows down the possibilities.

Lee Weeks’ art is great. I love the detail and shapes, and Kalisz’s coloring pairs with it nicely. I did like Brett Booth on the comic a lot, but, if he is being replaced with Weeks, I won’t complain.

This comic is a lot of fun to read and is overflowing with personality. It’s upbeat, funny, and the characters are completely lovable. I highly recommend it. It’s easily one of my favorite DC titles being published right now.

Final Score: 10/10

Earth 2 Society #19 Review

Earth 2 Society #19 Review

How many planets are they going to run through?

Dan Abnett (W), Bruno Redondo (P) and (Layouts), Juan Albarran (I), Vicente Cifuentes (P) and (I), Rex Lokus (C)

Cover by Bruno Redondo and Alejandro Sanchez

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

          First off, apologies for the lateness of this posting. I didn’t plan too well and family obligations got in the way of finishing this earlier in the day.

The story of Earth 2 in the New 52 as well as Rebirth has been a complex one, both in terms of quality and content. When Earth 2 first started in 2012, I was rather excited for the series. However, it failed to grab my dad and I with its apocalyptic, dreary tone and its lackluster characters, and we did not continue to get it from there. We picked it back up later on when Tom Taylor took over the series and continued it for a time. However, we dropped it once more when we heard about Earth 2: World’s End because we are both vehemently against weekly series. We have checked back in a couple of times since Dan Abnett took over as writer, and I picked up the newest issue this week for curiosity’s sake.

My main dilemmas with the saga of Earth 2 in the New 52 is that it really does not resemble the tales of the Justice Society beyond character names. Alan Scott is more arrogant and stoic than the older iteration. Jay Garrick is a little more unsure and Spider-Man esque than the Flash of old. The new Doctor Fate, Hawkgirl, Huntress, Power Girl, Al Pratt, Commander Steel, and Sandman are more in line with what the characters once were, but they are more often than not pushed to the background. That’s to say nothing of Mister Terrific outright disappearing after Future’s End and the lack of Society classics like Wildcat, Jessie Quick, Johnny Thunder, Obsidian, Jade, and Atom Smasher. There’s also Hawkman, Shazam, and Stargirl, all of which have been restricted to Prime Earth and never appear in the series.

I understand that this is supposed to be the younger versions of the characters, but being the old vanguard has been such a central part of their narratives for so long now that giving them youth loses a lot of the things that made the Justice Society unique. The constant apocalyptic scenarios and dower tone also prevent the book from delving into the old-fashioned heroics which are hallmarks of the Justice Society. That being said, I have neglected the main problem that has prevented this book from being the return of the Justice Society that many people are craving.

This book wants to be about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and it’s really frustrating. The series has made itself focus on the Big Three with the new Superman, two Batmen, and Fury/Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, I did kind of dig Thomas Wayne as Batman, Val-Zod the pacifist Superman is a pretty cool concept, and at least they allow Fury the dignity of having pants. However, that is not what many people are looking for in a book called Earth 2 Society. That name implies something akin to the Justice Society, and the book has not been that and only hints at it at times.

To move onto the current story, Earth 2 has been remade once again by the Pandora Casket, and the Wonders have just arrived into the new world created after facing duplicates of Sandman in some kind of phantom dimension out of sync with their own. In one location stands Superman, Power Girl, the Flash, Fury, Red Tornado, and Hawkgirl. In the other is Batman, “Boy Wonder,” and Huntress, these three having just been hidden away by someone calling himself Sergeant Steel while the others stand in a park in Metropolis.

The first group reside themselves to blending in while Sergeant Steel informs the second group of the state of the current world. It’s a near-perfect utopia controlled by an organization calling itself Central Command. They apparently fear Wonders coming from other dimensions to meddle with the world. To this end, they created Sergeant Steel, but they considered him a failure and moved onto creating the Sandmen. Steel distrusts this government and recognizes Batman, Huntress, and Boy Wonder as the extradimensional beings that Central Command fears.

Meanwhile, we get a look at Central Command and its army of Sandmen. Its led by a shadowy figure in armor reminiscent of Lex Luthor. He is aware of the arrival of the Wonders and wants them dealt with.

Back with Steel, Boy Wonder becomes aware that they are being tracked. Steel discovers it too with his technology, and he becomes distrustful of the three of them. A fight ensues, and Batman is apparently shot.

The first group is next shown being ambushed by the Sandmen, and we are shown the identity of the leader of Central Command (spoilers): Ultra-Humanite. The comic ends with that reveal.

This book has some real pacing issues. Much of the comic consists of the Wonders reiterating what is already known to the followers of the series. I understand wanting to be inviting to new readers, but this exposition could have been covered in far less space. The rest of the bulk is made up of information from Sergeant Steel which could have been greatly condensed too.

The plot is admittedly high-concept, and it does need some explaining. Even I felt a little confused at times, but that mostly comes from what I knew about previous points in the series and how different things are now. Where are Green Lantern, Atom, Doctor Fate, and Mister Terrific? Dick Grayson is Batman now? Who and what is John “the Boy Wonder” exactly? Did they really lose another Earth?

None of that is necessarily needed to understand the current story, but it is indicative of the creative team shifts and no one knowing what exactly they want to do with the series beyond imitating the Justice League.

That being said, I didn’t hate this comic. It was just so bogged down with exposition. No action. No interesting character moments. It’s all just explaining things. There’s a bizarre amount of detail devoted to them changing into disguises which becomes completely unnecessary when the Sandmen attack. They even say that the “disguises were pointless.” So what was the point? The plot could have been constructed differently to move this stuff along more efficiently.

The art is pretty good. The characters look striking and detailed. It is a bit overly glossy, and there isn’t a whole lot of physical expression going on. There is a funny visual gag with Fury being visibly disgusted at a Hello Kitty-esque shirt. Beyond that, the art is good, but not extraordinary.

If you’re already hooked on this series, you will likely be bored by the slow pace and constant exposition. If you’re a newcomer, you will get some grasp of what’s going on but only because the comic won’t stop explaining things. If you’re a returning reader to see what the comic is like now, it barely resembles the series as it has been and will be a bit alienating. It won’t likely win back readers.

Like I said, I didn’t hate this comic. It is playing with some interesting, if redundant, concepts. It’s cool seeing less used characters like Huntress, Ultra-Humanite, and Jay Garrick. However, the pace is very slow and results in a dull comic. I can’t recommend it. Check back later when things have picked up again.

Final Score: 5/10

Titans #1

Titans #1

The Titans of old in a new age

 

Dan Abnett (W), Brett Booth (P), Norm Rapmund (I), Andrew Dalhouse (C)

Cover by: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

Let’s talk more Titans shall we? I’m don’t actually have a preamble to this one. I know, I know, I usually do. What can I say other than I’m glad Wally is back and Dick Grayson is Nightwing again? And I’ve already said both of those things multiple times. Anyway, here we go.

The opening gives us a refresher on Wally West’s recent history. It shows his career as Kid Flash and the Flash, and it shows him being pulled from time by a mysterious hand. Then it shows him being pulled back into the world by Barry Allen. Wally then changes the yellow-and-red of the Kid Flash suit to retake his mantle as the Flash. His new suit, which looks really awesome by the way, is a red and silver number that still shows his red hair.

From there, we are brought back to the present, where Lilith aka Omen is trying to reach into Wally’s subconscious for more answers. She can only find memories of Linda Park, and Wally tells them about how Linda didn’t remember him when he appeared to her before being saved by Barry.

We then get a look at Linda Park’s current life. She runs a website called Super News, which centers around news about metahumans. She’s baffled by Wally’s sudden appearance to her and that he knew her name. She is trying to figure out who he is and what is going on.

Back with the Titans, Garth suggests that they track down Mammoth, as he was enthralled like they were in their recent adventures from Titans Hunt. Arsenal leaves to track him down and is aided by Donna Troy. They discover that he is employed by Psimon.

Upon their return to the rest of the Titans, they find Lilith still trying to delve into Wally’s mind. Arsenal and Donna tell the rest of the Titans about this “Simon” as they call him, implying they don’t know who Psimon is. Before they can leave to find Psimon, Lilith informs them that she fears she woke something up, and they need to leave for Keystone City.

That something is a poor birthday magician named Mr. Hocus Pocus. Then Hocus Pocus suddenly transforms and starts exhibiting real magic powers. He now calls himself Abra Kadabra and claims that he made Wally West disappear, and now he is going to destroy him.

I wanted to review this book mainly because I wanted to share the adventure of where this story is going with you guys (feel special). Where is it going? I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to the journey.

Wally’s journey is an engaging one. He disappeared out of the lives of everyone he cared about, and now he’s trying to reconnect. The rest of the Titans are just as likeable. They all have really good chemistry, and their personalities play off each other really well.

It kind of reminds me of older team books. There is a lot of down time and moments for the characters to interact while not punching people in the face. The action actually takes a back seat in this issue. It’s primarily about the Titans getting to know each other again and investigating the cause of the missing ten years.

The action, though brief in this issue, is quick and fun. Brett Booth’s artwork continues to be perfectly fitting for a Titans book. The colors are still bright and popping.

I also really dig Donna Troy’s reimagined costume. It’s a cool improvement on the old black tights with stars.

I’m really interested to see where this story is going. I wasn’t necessarily expecting Abra Kadabra, and I struggle to believe that he is the big bad behind everything. I mean, we were told directly that it’s Dr. Manhattan behind all of this after all. I predict he used Abra Kadabra to force Wally from the time stream somehow.

I expected the overall story to moving forward slowly, as it does in this issue. However, the speed by which it goes feels organic. You, as the reader, aren’t already given a map to Dr. Manhattan, so you don’t really know how the Titans are going to find him. You don’t feel impatient for them to figure it out, so you’re not antsy for a predicable conclusion. That’s smart, because it has you following the same leads that the team is. It’s a simple narrative strategy, but it’s a clever one. I don’t find many comics using this, as they all too often tilt their hand at the first opportunity.

I look forward to the reappearance of Psimon. Since he was a major player in Crisis on Infinite Earths, it did have me wondering about something. With the story referencing that Wally was once the Flash, I wonder if we’re ever going to revisit the death of Barry Allen, since that was the catalyst for Wally becoming the Flash. I hope not, since Barry is my favorite super hero. I would be curious about how they would explain that in the lens of the New 52/Rebirth though.

This is a solid comic with a great cast and a lot of promise for the future. Hop on this bandwagon early, because it’s going to be a fun ride.

Final Score: 8/10

Titans: Rebirth #1

Titans: Rebirth #1

 

Dan Abnett (W), Brett Booth (P), Norm Rapmund (I), Andrew Dalhouse (C)

Cover by: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

The power of friendship, it’s definitely not a moral or plot point that has been underused in fiction. It’s no stranger to super hero comics either, yet it is still used often in the medium. With a good writer, it’s usually a pretty compelling and generally heartwarming moral (see James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy for a good example of that).

One thing that is important to make the premise work is that the characters having good chemistry. Each interaction between two characters needs to be unique from an interaction between a different pair. That’s one of the reasons why Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers will likely forever be one of my favorite comic series. It’s honestly one of the things that separates Geoff Johns’ fantastic run on Justice Society of America from his perpetually underwhelming Justice League series in the New 52.

Dan Abnett has shown that he’s very good at creating chemistry in the past, between his tenures co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy and Heroes for Hire.

He once again shows this skill with Titans: Rebirth #1.

It’s another “power of friendship” story, but, like a good one, it’s a very enjoyable read and it’s pretty heartwarming. The premise is that Wally West, having reintroduced himself to Barry Allen in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, is trying to reconnect with his former teammates from the Teen Titans: Nightwing, Arsenal, Tempest, Donna Troy, and Lilith. He arrives to find them not recognizing him, but, one-by-one, they remember him upon making physical contact with him. The Speed Force is somehow showing his allies flashbacks which awaken their memories of Wally West. He then tells them what he learned from his time away and that someone has stolen time from them. The team, now reformed, agree to prevent it from happening again.

And that’s the entire issue, and I really enjoyed it. It’s not particularly action-packed, other than the Titans attempting to incapacitate Wally in the beginning. It’s a primarily character-driven issue, and it works. The scenarios that are shown in the flashbacks are all really nice and, honestly, pretty sweet. If you like these characters, you’ll really like this book. If you’re not that familiar with them, it will give you a clear picture of who they are.

Brett Booth does very good work here. He is a situational artist with a unique and recognizable style. On heavier, darker books like Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire’s Justice League of America, his art didn’t really fit the tone of the book. However, his art was definitely welcome on lighter books like Nightwing and The Flash. Here, in this upbeat book about friends reconnecting, it was definitely welcome. His artwork looks good on its own, it just needs the right home. The inking and coloring coincide with his art very well too. The inking solidifies the details very well, and the colors are very dynamic.

Also, it seems like this book is going to be involved a lot in the big, looming story that lies in the background of Rebirth. This especially seems to be the case given that Wally West is in the book.

There’s not much more to say, really. The book was really good, and it continues Rebirth’s streak of putting out really good and refreshing books. It made me very excited about what’s ahead in this series. Pick it up, it’s definitely worth a read.

Final Score: 9/10

Aquaman: Rebirth #1 and The Flash: Rebirth #1

 

Aquaman: Rebirth #1: Dan Abnett (W), Scot Eaton, Oscar Jimenez (P), Mark Morales, Oscar Jimenez (I), Gabe Eltaeb (C)

Aquaman Cover by: Brad Walker, Drew Hennessy, and Gabe Eltaeb

The Flash: Rebirth #1: Joshua Williamson (W), Carmine Di Giandoemnico (A), Ivan Plascencia (C),

The Flash Cover by: Karl Kerschl

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: Both $2.99

Recently, someone suggested to me to possibly start doing double reviews for comics. I was reluctant at first, because I don’t want a review of mine to be competing with itself, and I am starting to work out a rhythm to these that I want to keep.

Then I read Aquaman: Rebirth #1 and The Flash: Rebirth #1, and all I could think was “wow, this kind of felt like reading the same comic twice.”

I’m going to go ahead and say that neither of these comics are bad. They’re both pretty decent. Neither really wowed me though, and both really have similar strengths and weaknesses. They both also flowed in the same manner.

Aquaman: Rebirth picks up with Arthur Curry fighting off an attack from the Deluge, a cell of xenophobic Atlantean terrorists bent on attacking the surface world. This and the remainder of the comic is being narrated by an unknown observer who seems to know Aquaman very well. Aquaman defeats the Deluge, while the story keeps cutting to Mera and the staff of Spindrift Station watching as well as news shows questioning the heroics and motives of Aquaman. The comic ends with Aquaman meeting Mera at a diner to discuss the day. It then reveals who the mysterious narrator is, the identity of which I won’t reveal here.

Flash: Rebirth runs concurrently with the Rebirth comic itself, with Barry Allen (who, for the record, is my favorite DC super hero) investigating a murder. The circumstances of this murder hauntingly resemble the killing of his mother and the subsequent incarceration of his father. His coworker, Detective Singh, is concerned that Barry is too emotional to investigate, but Barry resolves to stay on the case. He begins to get visions of Kid Flash (the original Wally West), Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne), and an unknown third speedster in a white and red suit. He seeks advice from his now-absolved father, who suggests that he rests up. He then proceeds to analyze the evidence, using his speed to simultaneously help around Central City while the equipment works. He then encounters Wally West in the scene from the Rebirth comic. The two have their emotional reunion, and then Barry goes to talk with Batman about what each them have learned from Wally. The comic ends with a silhouette at the crime scene resembling a certain villain, the identity of which I won’t spoil either.

Neither pays much service to characterizing their hero for any new readers who are jumping on here. Flash: Rebirth does pay a bit of service to the old-fashioned heroism that is Barry Allen’s defining trait, but it doesn’t do too much more than that.

Aquaman: Rebirth is a far worse offender on this front. Dan Abnett has been doing a good job of breathing life and personality into Arthur Curry over recent issues. Here, the mystery narrator’s description of Aquaman only draws attention to how much more interesting this character should be versus how he really is. I realized how similar Aquaman and Black Panther are in terms of their jobs and roles, and all I could think about was how much more intriguing T’Challa is than Arthur Curry. They’re both kings with people who have harbored mistrust for them, and they both do their best to broker peace between their nations and the outside world. However, Black Panther’s personality and actions reflects his role far better than Aquaman’s personality. I say this as a fan of both characters.  However, more effort could be expended to make Aquaman a unique and interesting character. Hopefully the very skilled Dan Abnett will resolve this in future issues.

In terms of action and sparking interest, Aquaman has more going on. The Deluge threat is a pretty cool threat for Aquaman to deal with, and it is a fairly complex situation for Arthur to have to deal with. It also has some pretty cool fight scenes included with Aquaman fighting off some members of the terror cell.

Flash doesn’t have a whole lot going on for itself. Other than foreshadowing villains, the bulk of the comic is spent retelling the latter portion of DC Universe: Rebirth. That was probably an order from up the chain of command that the creative team didn’t have a say in, but the comic still suffered for it.

Both have a bad case of telling and not showing. Aquaman tries to tell you everything it feels you need to know about Arthur Curry instead of showing his personality through his actions. Flash decides to summarize the last section through narration as well, and it’s not particularly engrossing.

In terms of art, both comics have their troubles. I found the art underwhelming throughout Flash: Rebirth. It was pretty cartoonish, and it wasn’t detailed enough to be stylistic. That being said, there is a really cool two-page spread of Wally West and Barry Allen running alongside one another.

Aquaman: Rebirth had some cool art at the beginning and the end, but it continues to change styles in the middle, sometimes in between turns of the page. It’s very distracting when a comic changes art styles within the same field of view.

In each, the surprise villain appearance at the end was by far the most exciting part. The rogues were well-chosen for the stories.

Again, both comics worked as a whole, but neither really excited or intrigued me in a way that a first issue of a new era should. They set up for future stories, but they’re so wrapped up in that goal that they don’t do much for the present. If you’re a fan of either character, take a look, but keep your expectations in check.

Final Score (for each): 7/10

Review for Aquaman #52

Review for Aquaman #3

Brief Discussion on the Arthur Curry himself

A History of the Flash