DC Rebirth Week 3 – Batman, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns and Teen Titans

DC Rebirth Week #3

It is safe to say that Rebirth is in full swing now with five books out this week (four #1s and one Rebirth title), and another five next week.  The introductions are also starting to fade away and the actual stories are beginning to take form.  So far there have been more hits than misses for me, but that was also true at the beginning of the New 52 relaunch so I will keep my optimism in check.  This week I decided to grab Batman #1, Green Arrow #1, Green Lanterns #1, and Titans Rebirth #1.  Superman #1 also came out this week, but given that I did not enjoy Superman Rebirth or Action Comics #957 I decided to pass on it after a brief glance through it at the comic shop.  It may have cleared up all the confusion I have been feeling regarding the Super-titles so far, I don’t know, but it did not appear to from my quick read and I decided against it.  As with previous issues I strongly suspect that people who read the Super League crossover that concluded the New 52 Super-titles will find a lot to like in these books that I am missing.

Titans Rebirth #1 CoverTitans Rebirth #1
Writer: Dan Abnett
Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

The Teen Titans were the team that was probably hit hardest by the New 52 reboot.  Wally West and Aqualad were essentially removed from continuity completely (Aqualad was added back in later), Starfire was turned into a nymphomaniac with the memory of a goldfish, Cyborg’s membership was removed from continuity and he jumped straight to the Justice League, and the rest of the team was altered in awkward ways (Wonder Girl, in particular, had some odd changes made to her story).  That is probably why so many fans are eager to see what Rebirth has in store for the team.  The answer will largely have to wait for another day, but the good news for now is that the team is (mostly) back together and with their memories returned.  Starfire and Cyborg may not be team members still, but many of the classic group are back together.

If Titan Hunt was an ode to the team that fans longed to see, then Rebirth is the long-awaited return to form that they have hoped for.  Admittedly this issue is primarily about pushing forward the overarching Rebirth story, which means exploring the fact that everyone is missing years of their lives and history, but there is enough here to keep fans entertained.  And make no mistake, this issue was written for fans, for better or worse.  That means that if you have been hoping for a return of the classic Titans then you will get your wish, but if you have no connection to it then the nostalgia angle probably will not impact you much.  For myself I love the old Wolfman/Perez run on the classic New Teen Titans title, but have little exposure to them outside of that.

I would say that this is essential reading for anyone who is following the overarching Rebirth story narrative as it shows some more of what Wally West has seen and can do, as well as fans of the classic Titans.  Everyone else can safely skip it since this is mostly meant to evoke nostalgia over pushing forward an actual story.  That said, I suspect that once the actual series gets going we will see some good stories come out of this, and as always I have faith in writer Dan Abnett’s abilities.

You can pickup Titans Rebirth #1 at Comixology/Amazon.com or your local comic shop.

Batman #1 (Rebirth) CoverBatman #1
“I Am Gotham Part 1”
Writer: Tom King
Penciller: David Finch
Inker: Matt Banning
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire

Previous Comic: Batman Rebirth #1

Writer Tom King has been making a name for himself over at Marvel with his spectacular run on Vision (seriously, if you have not read it yet please do so), and it looks like DC has enough confidence in him to stick him on one of the two main Bat-books in their line.  The result is a bit more mixed than I would have expected, unfortunately.  The entire issue is dedicated to a plane flying over Gotham which comes under fire from a surface-to-air missile launched from within the city.  The rest of the Justice League appears to be off doing other things, which leaves Batman to try to get the plane to either land safely, or barring that prevent it from crashing within the city.  What follows is enough over-the-top action to fill half a Michael Bay movie.

Batman uses an ejector seat from the batmobile to get aboard the plane, which he then rigs up a propulsion system for (using the jets from the ejection seat) and attaches himself to the top of the plane so he can dictate control turns to Alfred.  Uh, yeah.  This is the kind of thing you might expect from the Adam West Batman of years gone by, but this is played straight and it suffers for it.  It is just too ridiculous a concept to take seriously, and while I get that Mr. King is probably trying to set a new tone for the Batbooks after years and years of overplayed grimness, it feels like it is just too far in the other direction.

When you add on to that the pure melodrama of Batman essentially dictating his last will to Alfred, and then asking him “is this a good death?”, my willingness to suspend my disbelief falls away pretty quickly.  I had high expectations for this issue, and as a result this feels disappointing.  It is good to shake things up and not let characters get into a rut, especially the big name ones like Batman, but this feels like too much too fast.  I am not sold on this version of Batman, and it is going to take some effort to get me past that hurdle.

Now, having said all that, it is also important to note this is the first issue of an arc and there is quite a ways to still go with it.  We may learn some things down the line which redeem this issue and make the character changes seem more natural than they do now, which I am willing to wait for and see what happens.  Also worth noting is that despite a build-up that left me underwhelmed the books ends on a cliffhanger that is genuinely interesting and makes me want to see where they are going with this story.  Unfortunately the reveal is spoiled a bit by the cover, but we will just have to live with that.  Despite my criticisms the cliffhanger ending combined with my faith in Mr. King’s writing will rope me in for future issues, but my expectations have been lowered significantly at the same time.

(Also, super-nitpick: Alfred refers to the plane as a 747 jetliner, and it is clearly a much smaller plane than that, probably a 737)

You can pickup Batman #1 at Comixology/Amazon.com or your local comic shop.

Green Arrow #1 (Rebirth) CoverGreen Arrow #1
The End
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Otto Schmidt

Previous Comic: Green Arrow Rebirth #1

As I noted two weeks back in my section on Green Arrow Rebirth #1 I never had any attachment to the Black Canary/Green Arrow romance that a lot of Green Arrow fans seem to have.  As such the whole notion of getting them back together really does not mean much to me, although I understand the importance of it returning in Rebirth.  It was completely written out of continuity by New 52, which many fans felt was a slap to the face, and this is a peace offering regarding that.  So if you are one of those fans who enjoyed that relationship then you will want to be checking out this issue, though there are parts to it that may not excite you as much as you would hope.  The actual status of the two as a couple is still very much in question, and although they seem to be getting back together the book hints that it will not be that simple (which is likely a good thing).

It may sound like I do not want Ollie and Dinah to get together, but that is not strictly true.  I just do not see it is a must-have necessity of the modern comics world.  If it generates good stories than I am all for it, but if it is just for nostalgia or because it is expected I would rather they jettison it for something else.  Right now it is too early to tell what direction it is heading in.

That is only part of the issue, though, and the rest seems to be dedicated to Oliver trying to act as a big brother should to his sister, Emi, and trying to make sure his company, Queen Industries, is not involved in shady business. Which, of course, it is because big corporations are the villain du jour in comics for the time being.  So he investigates further, which results in his supposed friends and business partners turning Shado loose on him.  These two characters have history together, so it ends up being fairly bloody.  All told the action is good and well paced, and the danger seems legitimate throughout.

Like Batman #1 this one ends on a cliffhanger, and it is a good one.  This is one of those stories where it genuinely feels like there is no way out for the hero, and that makes me want to read issue two just to see how he survives what should certainly be a death sentence.  It also it helpful that the ending is setup subtlety throughout the issue so that it does not feel forced or unnatural, and instead makes sense when you see some of the clues throughout the issue.

This is a solid first issue of Green Arrow, and one I can easily recommend to most people.

You can pickup Green Arrow #1 at Comixology/Amazon.com or your local comic shop.

Green Lanterns #1 CoverGreen Lanterns #1
Rage Planet Part 1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Penciller: Robson Rocha
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Blond

Previous Comic: Green Lanterns Rebirth #1

As I have noted previously the Green Lantern books are ones that I have tried repeatedly to get into but always been blocked by the immovable wall of convoluted continuity.  Although we have so far only seen one of the Green Lantern books to come out of Rebirth (this one), I am happy to report that the team over at DC seems to be intent on lowering the barrier to entry on these books (now get them working on Superman, please).  This series is going to focus primarily on Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, the two newest human green lanterns, and have them team-up together to protect Earth from alien threats.  Making the book be about the rookies allows it to explain concepts that would not need to be explained by books focusing on lanterns that were already multi-year veterans, and thus makes it easier for readers like me to jump in.

It also helps that Baz and Cruz are interesting characters in their own rights who seem to clash over the tiniest little things.  Simon views himself as a veteran lantern (he’s not), and thus that teaming up with a rookie like Cruz is beneath him (it’s not).  Although he does not entirely overcome that by the end of this issue the first steps on that journey have been made.  Cruz, for her part, seems to be getting some self-confidence as she gets more experience, and is more than capable of taking care of herself in a fight.  Well, so far anyway.

Although this issue features a mostly throw-away threat, the power behind it is far more reaching than that.  The red lanterns have been around for a while now as villains, but their power has been dwindling over the years.  As one of the two nominally “evil” power ring corps they have been getting beaten down by everyone else, which has left their leader, Atrocitus, rather angry.  Given that DC seems to want to redeem Sinestro to some degree, it appears that Atrocitus is being positioned to take up Sinestro’s old position as primary antagonist to the green lanterns, which I am okay with.  That has, at the very least, earned him a spot on the Injustice 2 roster of playable characters, which would support the idea that he will be an important cast member in the DC’s cosmic books for a while.  In this particular issue we do not get to see much of his current plans, only that he intends to start a “red dawn”, and that is probably not a good thing.

At the end of the day I am happy to support a Green Lantern title that is actually readable without having a degree in the History of Oa, and I will be continuing with this title moving forward.  I can only hope that the other upcoming Lantern title, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, follows suit.

You can pickup Green Lanterns #1 at Comixology/Amazon.com or your local comic shop.

That concludes week 3 of Rebirth, which has continued to prove to be a solid relaunch effort.  Next week will conclude the first month of Rebirth with five issues.  I will be grabbing Aquaman #1, Detective Comics #935, Flash #1, and Wonder Woman #1.  I will be passing on Action Comics #958, which is also out next week.

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