“Hold Fast” DC Rebirth’s First month.

“Hold fast to Dreams, for if Dreams die then life is a broken-winged bird, that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes.

As I previously wrote, Rebirth was an idea that would either be a massive success or an amazing disappointment and unfortunately it has been a solid split down the middle. There have been some stories that were great and there have been some that were literally some of the worst I’ve read. My goal here has been to read these and write about them with an optimistic outlook on the event…but they’re not making it easy.

Now, I bought every issue that had Rebirth over the top of it that came out this month, I won’t be doing that again next month unless I get a request for it so hit me up on Facebook or in the comments section if you’d like to make a request.

Green Arrow

Let’s start off with one that I actually really enjoyed. These first two issues were outstanding. Ben Percy and Otto Schmidt are a great team to have on this. This was the only one from the first month that I wasn’t planning on getting but I picked up the first issue and loved it and two weeks later I picked up the second and now I have to sign up for it. It’s a great starter for anyone who wants to understand who Green Arrow and Black Canary really are.(It’s not, however, for fans of the show because these characters actually make logical decisions *Gasp!* and don’t backtrack on their moral choices a season later “The Horror!”.) I loved how we turned Green Arrow back into a hero of the people. They call him a social justice hero and that’s absolutely the best way to describe him. The second issue has one of my favorite speeches ever given by a comic book character, I won’t spoil it here but it’s when he explains to Black Canary what “Happiness is…” It’s just a great sequence and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

Green Lanterns

I have a very interesting history with Green Lantern. I wasn’t a huge DC fan until 2008 or ’09, I loved The big characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and I’ve always loved Nightwing and the Teen Titans and most of that came from the shows and films but the rest of this beautifully dense universe didn’t become a huge part of my life until I read Grant Morrison’s run on Batman(an article for another time) and Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. Green Lantern quickly became one of my all time favorite characters and I couldn’t get enough of his story. Well Johns has clearly always had a big hand in the Green Lantern mythos and Rebirth was no different, he co-wrote the first issue with Sam Humphries and it became a little meta textual in the story. The Story is that Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the new Green Lanterns of Earth while Hal Jordan is off to find the rest of the Green Lantern Corps that has disappeared.(Much like Johns leaving to save the films while Humphries writes Green Lanterns, Whoa.) Before gaining the ring, Cruz suffered from a constant fear that she was always going to be attacked or hurt if she ever left her apartment, she still struggles with it but I like that because fear isn’t something that just goes away. Baz is a Muslim man that has been feared and hated most of his life. He recently gained the ring while wrongfully imprisoned and quickly discovered that he could do things with his ring that no other Green Lantern could, he struggles with trust issues which is where this story takes off. I loved the first two issues and I’m so happy that DC has decided to do more with these two great characters.

Batman

How do you follow the greatest Batman run of all time? This is the question that Tom King clearly had to ask himself before taking over Batman. Luckily for him, he already had the backing of Scott Snyder and Geoff Johns in this venture and he had some brilliant plans for how to make his Batman standout by using his experience from the C.I.A. to improve his stories and his way of writing. The first issue was co-written with Snyder as an epilogue to his perfect run and give an idea of what to expect and while it’s very good the second issue is the one that I’m going to focus on. It deals with something thst we haven’t seen Batman take on before: A plane crash. We’ve seen Wonder Woman, Superman and even Flash take care of this problem but we’ve never seen Batman do it until now. King writes him in a very intelligent way, he remains unstoppable and uncompromising when it comes to human lives and that’s why it works so well. My personal favorite quote is when he and Duke Thomas are talking about what they need to do to stop the plane and Duke says that it won’t be easy to which Batman responds : “I don’t need easy, Mr. Thomas.” It just made me really happy because he is the Batman that DC needs right now.

Titans

Titans Rebirth…I have so many concerns. Dan Abnett and Brett Booth are great. Let me go ahead and clarify that the creative talent on this story is not the source of my worries at all. My biggest worry is what Rebirth had already hinted at, not everything is back to normal. DC has effectively done the exactly what they did in 2011, some things are the same, some things are different and Batman is still arguably the best book on the stands. The one big change is that The Titans books aren’t being written by a hack like Scott Lobdell, instead, This one, focusing on the original Teen Titans from the 60’s, is being written by Dan Abnett and then starting in September, Ben Percy will be taking on Teen Titans which will be focusing on the younger group. I’m personally very excited for the other series and I was excited to read this series until I read the first book.

My review of this book has to be separated into two parts

  1. Rebirth Issues : The first issue was very good but had a problem of not knowing what story was still in continuity. When this title was originally announced, I had assumed that the entire purpose of it was to feature the older Titans from Marv Wolfman’s run in a more adult setting with them being the bridge team between the older Justice League and the younger Teen Titans but I was shocked that when I read this issue it appeared to focus entirely on the team before the New Teen Titans. But wait, they forgot about The New Teen Titans back in 2011 and I wasn’t upset, right? Well you’re correct but in 2011 they didn’t make it seem like this new universe was going to include everything that the DC Universe had published before. They called it a reboot which meant that it was a brand new story but now this Rebirth makes it seem like there are certain things that are important but then certain things don’t even matter anymore which is upsetting to me. I’m fine with certain things being Ret-Conned(Taken out of continuity) but if you’re going to do it then be clear about it. Also, if The New 52 is still in Continuity then why is Donna Troy not freaking out and killing everything in sight? If we’re taking anything out then I agree that it should be the Finch’s run on Wonder Woman but the need for clarification on what is and isn’t still important is definitely missing here.
  2. I didn’t hate this book because even though it had some issues here and there it was still written and drawn well. This is a great team that is going to bring us quality stories but I can’t be completely satisfied until they officially tell me if one of my favorite comic runs has been taken out completely.

The Flash

Josh Williamson was, in my opinion, DC’s best acquisition of the new Rebirth talent. His big claim to fame was the crime thriller Nailbiter and it shows in this comic in a very good way. He writes Barry as a person who is haunted by the things he can’t change even while being the fastest man alive. He’s such a great character no matter what but Williamson has nailed it in the first two issues, the setup for the new characters is great and I can’t wait to see how Barry handles all of these new people. The story picks up a few days before Wally comes back and then after he returns we get to see the rest of the conversation at the end of Rebirth. The first issue doesn’t give you a whole lot to go on but it’s still very good. The second issue is where we get to see more of the story progression and we even got to see New 52 Wally, definitely a concern since Red-Headed Wally came back. One of the other things I’me excited to see is this new villain that we’ve read about in the solicitations, I expect him to be terrifying because those are the villains that Williamson does very well and it’s also a good contrast to have against Barry.

Overall The team has done a great job on this one and I’m excited to see where the story goes from here with the new speedsters.

Action Comics

As I’ve said before, this comic is pure insanity but it actually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The basic premise of the book is that in the wake of Superman’s death Lex Luthor has stepped up and become the new Superman. If it stopped there then I think this could be my favorite book of the new line-up because Luthor is my favorite villain and I think that a story of him trying to be a better man would be great…if it didn’t have to deal with the rest of the story that Jurgens has given us. There’s actually another Superman from an alternate earth that has decided to become Superman because he thinks that Luthor is still evil and trying to trick everybody. Superman, who, for some reason is an idiot, attacks Luthor and then Doomsday comes out of nowhere while they’re fighting. Think it’s complicated? it gets worse because then a new Clark Kent comes out of nowhere. I don’t even understand what they’re trying to do with him, is he superpowered? instead of dying was he actually just depowered? how did he walk around the daily planet without anyone noticing?

The second issue is more of the same, everyone should listen to Lex Luthor, Lois stays with their son and says random things that don’t really make sense, the new Clark dances around giving a straight answer to anything, Doomsday is still a one note character(No, I don’t care that he’s “strategic” now) and the older Superman is an idiot. I had a lot of high hopes for this series and it could still be good but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as it could be.

Overall if this book didn’t have Lex Luthor then it wouldn’t be worth much but luckily he’s fantastic in this so if you’re a Luthor fan like me then you should pick this up.

Detective Comics

On the complete other end of the spectrum stands Detective Comics, which is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it incredibly entertaining but it also does very well with the idea of Hope and Optimism by once again using a villain who wants to become a better person. The execution on the first issue is almost perfect, it introduces all of the characters in a great way that I enjoyed immensely. Basically, Batman realizes that there are people targeting the heroes of Gotham and so he asks Batwoman(Kathy Kane) to help him train them to become an elite fighting force. The team is Batman and Batwoman as leaders with Robin(Tim Drake), Spoiler(Stephanie Brown), Orphan(Cassandra Cain) Clayface(Basil Karlo). Like I said the team is jsut very fun to read about and I can’t wait to see more of them. Stephanie and Tim have some great moments together but the standout of the first issue is clearly Batwoman, as an ex-marine she already knows how to fight as a unit which is why Batman wants her to train the team. Her lessons and her discussions with her father and Batman were definitely some of the months biggest highlights.

I love what Tynion is doing with this, while building off the relationships that he built between the characters in Batman and Robin Eternal while also making this work as a standalone without needing any prior knowledge of what has come before. Him and Barrows have already made this the best of the first month and I have no doubt that they will continue in the same way for many more issues.

 

Aquaman

I won’t lie here, The first issue of Aquaman really had me worried. It focused too much on making sure that he wasn’t considered to be a joke character anymore. That being said, him and Mera had some great moments and it was a good lead-in to the story but much like Batman, The second one is the standout issue. The main focus of the story is one Aquaman wanting to join the nations of the world to Atlantis. He wants to do this by inviting different representatives of the world to come to the atlantean embassy. I don’t wanna spoil too much but it has some great moments about ATlantean culture and it’s relationship with the surface world and it has some great moments from Mera. Which is great cause Mera’s always awesome. If Abnett got one thing right about the Aquaman universe then it was definitely the idea of Mera being the anchor for Arthur. I’ve always loved watching their love story as much as I love all of the great heroics. Can’t wait to see where this story goes after that killer cliffhanger.

Wonder Woman

Of all the comics that came out this month, Wonder Woman is the one that is most up in the air. When it was announced that Greg Rucka would be taking over I was ecstatic, but after reading his first two Issues I have some hesitance towards it. First, he is the only one that is using the Bi-Weekly schedule to his advantage in the sense of one week is the current story and then two weeks later you get to see her origin. It’s a great set-up and Rucka is doing an exceptional writing job but I do worry that we’re cancellijng out Azzarello’s run and I can’t abide that. The main reasons I’m not 100% behind this or against it is because Diana is hunting down her origin in the comic so I’m not sure if we still have Azzarello or not and although that’s an issue, it does guarantee return readers though.

As for Diana herself, Rucka writes her as well as he did back in 2005, she has a furious nature while also being very gentle and that’s hard for some writers to find that happy medium but Rucka does well like he always does. Overall, Great story and you should go and get it.

Superman

And at last we’ve come to it. This might be my least favorite comic book of all time. The second issue belongs in the pantheon of awful books like DC’s Convergence and Marvel’s Ultimatum. Peter J. Tomasi was the man who wrote The Last Days Of Superman over the final two months of The New 52, It was hopeful, emotional and was an overall great story…until you realized that it was leading up to this. Patrick Gleason has joined Tomasi in this latest story, taking over art duties and Co-Writing, and I expected to get a great story from the men who kept Batman and Robin going for so long. Instead we get depressing sub-plots and illogical character decisions. In the first issue, Older Superman(from a different earth, check out future installments of Comics 101 to learn more about multiple earths.) is trying revive Younger Superman who has recently died. Older Superman had died before and was brought back to life so this isn’t as crazy as it sounds…until it totally is. They can’t find the machine that could bring him back so they just give up basically. Some fans will say that he was finally becoming the Superman we needed, which is fine except for the fact that it seems really forced for him to come to this decision over the course of two pages. When Bucky becomes the new Captain America in Brubaker’s run, he does it over four or five issues which is a long time in the comic book world.

So basically the ending of the first issue is sad Superman isn’t as sad anymore and decides to become Superman again. Well what about the second issue?

Well Superboy, the son of Lois and Clark, is running along in the field with his lovable cat Goldie(Hope you don’t like that cat) and then a Hawk swoops down and snatches Goldie up(Wait, it gets worse) and while trying to save the cat, Superboy ends up frying them both with his heat vision and the charred corpses land at Superboy’s feet in the most horrifying comic book panel I have ever read.(Wow)

Superman is my favorite character and I constantly have to defend him as my favorite. But this story, this is why people don’t like him because people constantly forget how to write him. The first issue was boring and generic and the second issue got way too dark, way too fast. I’m not saying that comics can’t be more adult but this was reaching a Garth Ennis level of Violence.

I’m gonna give it until August which due to the Bi-Weekly shipping that’s six issues, or the length of the average graphic novel. Honestly, the only reason I haven’t cancelled it is so I don’t screw up my LCS'(Local Comic Shop) order too bad. Tomasi and Gleason would have to do something amazing to make this book anything but the first dropped book of this event.

 

In closing, Rebirth has had some great things happen in a few titles but it’s also had a whole lot of bad. The quantity of good books outweighs the bad currently but it has to be said that if you’re not watching out for your flagship character then something is a little off from the editorial side and only time will tell if any of the other books will be affected. The title of this article is taken from a great poet who implores us to not let our dreams die. I have many dreams about what DC could be. How it could form into a beautifully crafted story featuring some of the greatest characters that the world has ever seen. How it would showcase the hope and optimism that we need to see amid such dark times. Much like Norman McCay in Kingdom Come we have to stand and watch as these terrible things happen without the ability to fix them. Which is why we need Superman to come back and show us the way…but that’s hard to do when he’s being written by someone who clearly misunderstands hope.