DC Rebirth Week 4: Aquaman, Detective Comics, Flash and Wonder Woman

DC Rebirth Week #4

This is a strange week for DC Rebirth as there are no actual ‘Rebirth’ titles out this week, just some new first issues and the first two titles to reach their second issue (on a twice-monthly schedule, admittedly).  This week AquamanFlash, and Wonder Woman all got their first proper issues, and Action Comics and Detective Comics reached their second.  I have decided to shrug off the main Superman books for the time being, although my understanding is that the newest issue of Action Comics does finally bother to start explaining who these characters are.  I will be checking out Superwoman and Supergirl when they launch, but that will not be for a while yet.  The other books this week I did grab.

Since there are no Rebirth titles at all, in any form, coming out next week this week’s books will round out the first full month of DC’s Rebirth.

Aquaman #1 Cover
Aquaman #1

The Drowning Part 1: The End of Fear
Writer: Dan Abnett
Penciller: Brad Walker
Inker: Andrew Hennessey
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb

Previous comic: Aquaman Rebirth #1

The Rebirth issue of Aquaman was a bit underwhelming, to say the least, but I still have faith in the creative team to put out an interesting story here.  Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to wait a bit longer, although the final few pages offer strong rays of hope.  The majority of this issue is dedicated to establishing that the UN is actually taking the Atlantean embassy seriously, and follows two emissaries as they explore the new building.  Unfortunately these two aren’t all that entertaining, and Lieutenant Joanna Stubbs in particular has only one defining characteristic right now: she is British.

I wish that was just snark talking, but in fact that is pretty much exactly what defines her.  Panel after panel she introduces herself as “Lieutenant Stubbs, Royal Navy.  British Royal Navy”, and if that didn’t drive the point home then her liberal use of the word “crikey” should get you the rest of the way there (although I personally always associated “crikey” with an Australian stereotype for whatever reason).  Mind you she isn’t boasting about her Britishness, it is more of a bashful uncertainty, but it comes up frequently enough to become irritating.  The other character of note is a Daily Planet photojournalist who fits the arrogant American stereotype rather well, although the reasoning behind that is a bit better.

If you are wondering where Aquaman is in all this, well, he plays a bit of a background role through the majority of the issue and only plays into the beginning and ending.  The beginning is your standard introduction to the character, as well as to Mera, and that is fair enough since this is a first issue and explanations are a good place to start.  That said, we did just have the Rebirth issue as an introduction, even if it was just a retread of the New 52 Aquaman opening story arc.  It does what it needs to and little else.  The ending, on the other hand, is a knockdown fight with Black Manta, which is quite brutal.  It takes a while to get there and the journey could use some work, but the ending is solid and leads into what should hopefully be a good second issue in two weeks.

I am still waiting for Aquaman to wow me, but the ending is a good step in the right direction.  Since this is one of the twice-monthly series that DC is pushing they can afford to take a bit of a slower burn on individual issues, but we need a bit more than this to keep momentum going.  There is a lot riding on this series between the generally excellent Aquaman series that preceded this one, and the upcoming Justice League and Aquaman movies coming in the next few years, so they need to up their game a bit.  I will give this a few more issues, but it is definitely borderline right now.

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

Detective Comics #935 CoverDetective Comics #935
Rise of the Batmen Part 2: Apocalypse Now
Writer: James Tynion IV
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Eber Ferreira
Colorist: Adriano Lucas

Previous comic: Detective Comics #934

This series appears to be taking a slow burn with its opening arc, but there is nothing wrong with that just yet.  The first issue was dedicated to assembling the team, and this issue focuses a bit more on turning them into an actual team as well exploring motivations.  In between issue 934 and this one it looks like Batman and Batwoman have started drilling the team on combat tactics, while using Clayface as something of a danger room substitute (which is admittedly rather clever).

There is a lot of tension on this team at the moment, which makes sense since each member is already a fully qualified hero in their own right (with the possible exception of Stephanie Brown), and Batman is still treating them as rank amateurs.  On the flipside this version of Batman apparently does not have any issue actually giving out praise, and he has good, motivating words for both Batwoman and Red Robin, which we probably would not have seen ever earlier this year before Rebirth.  Combined with his treating Flash as a scientific equal earlier in the Rebirth relaunch and we are moving in the direction of a Batman who is actually fairly interesting to read again.

As for the story itself there is not much going on here since, as noted above, this issue is mostly meant to explore each of the characters in a bit more depth.  The actual plot does not progress until the final few pages, but it does look like it will be engaging once it gets fully going.  Like Aquaman this book comes out twice a month so it can afford to take a bit longer to get to the point, but I think this one has found a better balance than Aquaman has yet.

So far this is the standout book of the Rebirth launch for me, and the one I am most excited to get the next issue for.

You can pickup Detective Comics #935 at Comixology/Amazon.com or your local comic shop.

Flash #1 CoverFlash #1
Lightning Strikes Twice Part 1: Deus Ex Machina
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenica
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia

Previous comic: Flash Rebirth #1

Flash Rebirth #1 was mostly a continuation of DC Universe Rebirth #1, so in many ways this is the first proper issue of Flash in the relaunch.  You can definitely see that in the issue itself, too, as it goes out of its way to introduce just about every important factoid about Barry Allen’s life that it can.  You can also tell that DC is expecting fans of the television show to be giving this a look as most of the focus is on making it familiar to viewers, right down to opening with “My name is Barry Allen… and I’m the fastest man alive!” straight from the show.  It also seems to follow the main beats of the show’s standard formula, which should make it feel familiar.  Honestly that is a good way of going about it, and hopefully there are viewers who will make the jump.

That said, this seems to be suffering from the same issue a lot of Rebirth titles are: lots of back story, but not much actual story.  As with most of the books launched so far it also ends on a dramatic cliffhanger designed to get you to pickup Flash #2.  I have to wonder if there was a mandate from on high to include last panel “gotchas” in Rebirth, because they are extremely prevalent so far.  Mostly the point of this issue is to introduce the supporting cast and Barry’s role in the forensics unit, which also highlights the similarities and differences between the book and the show.

There is not much conflict yet in this series, but like the other books I’ve already talked about this week it is a twice-monthly comic so it can afford to take its time.  Since this is also trying to serve as an intro to television viewers I will cut it some slack on its pacing right now, which is slow even for the twice-monthly format, but I am hoping things will pickup with the next issue.

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

Wonder Woman #1 CoverWonder Woman #1
The Lies Part 1
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Laura Martin

Previous comic: Wonder Woman Rebirth #1

This is another twice-monthly book in the Rebirth launch, but unlike the others I have seen so far I believe this one is going to be doing alternating story lines.  So even though Wonder Woman #2 is only a few weeks off it will be running a different story line and will not be a sequel to this issue.  With that in mind I would expect this book to take a faster pace than the other comics we have seen so far, and it mostly does.

The theme of Wonder Woman was established in Rebirth as trying to reconcile the various origins that have been developed for her over the years, and that is the main focus of this issue.  Wonder Woman is looking for answers, and she has found her way to a remote island to begin that quest.  Simultaneously, and possibly coincidentally, Steve Trevor is also in the area on his own mission.   I am sure he will tie into the story at some point, but for the moment they are running in parallel and not interacting (aside from Trevor noticing her flying around).  I am not entirely sure why Steve, a test pilot, is running ground operations in the jungle, though I guess that is probably a New 52 holdover (I did not follow Wonder Woman during the New 52 so I am not entirely up-to-date on the changes made).

Aside from Wonder Woman trying to find out clues to her history the story revolves around her journey to the center of this island, and facing the obstacles it puts in her way.  There is a solid confidence to this interpretation of Diana which is endearing.  She knows exactly what she is capable of without falling into arrogance, and that gives her a strong presence throughout.  This is a version of Wonder Woman I want to read, and I am enjoying writer Greg Rucka’s take on her.

You have probably noticed by now I don’t talk often about art in my thoughts despite this being a visual medium.  Since I don’t really consider myself qualified to talk about the finer details of art (comic or otherwise) I generally only comment on art if I really love it or really hate it, and since I also normally do not write about books I don’t enjoy I don’t get to talk about art that doesn’t appeal to me very often.  That trend will, thankfully, continue.  So far there have not been any Rebirth comics that have had art that I’ve disliked, but also not many that have really piqued my interest.  Wonder Woman #1 is one of the two exceptions so far, with some lovely, moody coloring and strong line work that makes it pop off the page.  So far it and Detective Comics are the only ones that have stood out visually to me in Rebirth.

This is a solid first issue of Wonder Woman and I am kind of sad we won’t get the second part until issue #3.  That said, it will be interesting to see how well they handle the rotating story schedule moving forward from this, and to see what kind of impact it has on the story’s flow.  Until then we will have to see how the “Year One” arc compares in three weeks.

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

For whatever reason DC has decided to take next week off from Rebirth and no issues are coming out.  Hopefully that won’t disrupt the momentum they have been building since the relaunch started, but we will have to wait and see.  In two weeks we will get the following Rebirth books: Justice League Rebirth, Aquaman #2Batman #2Green Arrow #2Green Lanterns #2,  and Superman #2.  With the exception of Superman #2 I will be getting all the books, and my wallet is already crying.

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