Monthly Archives: January 2016

December DCU Stack

As always, this is a review post– I review all the DCU books from the current month that I received in my week four shipment; there will be spoilers for these books.

The “Robin War” story line definitively took over this month, adding books to the stack and pushing some titles up the list (partially artificially). That said, it was really good cross over which I definitely enjoyed.

From first to worst for my current stack, this month– and now to the books!

Grayson #15: This is the second part of Robin War. It features a “Robin School” where Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian training the massive number of other Robins, and picking out their best few (spoiler, our friends from “We Are Robin” are all the top recruits). We also get each of the former/current Robins take on what Batman says being Robin is all about– Investigation (Tim), confidence (Jason), suffering (Damian), family (Dick). Really great issue; of course it underscores that having Dick in a random gray spy suit still makes no sense and why can’t he just be in Gotham and be Nightwing again, but it took the top spot this month for the first time in its solid run.

Robin War #1: The kickoff to the Robin War event, we get the set up of a (very) young Robin accidentally killing a robber and a cop. Then we get Duke Thomas arrested and being a real Robin by breaking out of the back of the police cruiser. We get some more exposition about the “Robin laws”, and then our friends from “We Are Robin” who– apparently– are the “Middletown Robin Cell” (who knew!) speaking to a large gathering of Robins. Then Damian kicks all their asses. then mecha-Batman shows up and Damian has to fight him too. Then we get the rest of the former Robins in town and the dual set ups of the Batman sanctioned Robins training the new kids, and the Talons being behind the whole thing. Also, the (really) young Robin from the beginning gets killed by a Talon. As event books go this one set up a lot and worked really well.

JLA #6: We get back toe Bryan Hitch’s epic tale of Rao after the Martian Manhunter focused fill in issue. I have to say that I am glad they decided to drop a fill in issue instead of using more artists to get this story done faster– these big panels are just great and I like that Hitch is being allowed to tell his story, even though it caused some delay.

Aquaman is fighting some of Rao’s followers in Atlantis, and Superman is fighting Rao himself (and getting his butt handed to him in the Fortress of Solitude). Then we see Flash in the past where he is working with an “Infinity Corporation”– I think these are the same scientists who had the dozens of dead Supermen in the first issue?

The Rao’s dudes push Aquaman to the trashed Olympus where Wonderwoman is, and shocker– they blow it up more. We see a massive explosion of red that covers a two page spread, then cut to GL in the ancient past of Krypton where the big reveal is the Infinity Corporation building Flash was in in 1961 here 250,000 years ago on Krypton.

This is unfolding pretty slowly (especially with the delay), but its nice to have a Justice League story that isn’t on an infinite loop of crossover/event machine.

Batman #47: Jim Gordan shows down against Mr. Bloom, having to take out his own mech-suit, but manages to fritz Mr. Bloom’s seeds. Then, with Bloom in tow his Bat-Train-Mobile gets ambushed by more Mr. Blooms and oh, by the way Bruce Wayne remembers that he is Batman. Then the Joker shows up. Who knows where this is going next, but it feels finally like it’s finally building toward something and the story felt much more cohesive than the last few issues where the Bruce Wayne stuff was so very out of place.

I have a feeling this is going to read really well in the trade, but some of these individual issues have just not held up as a single piece of work. Similar to the kind of problem that Alan Seppinwall has been pointing out in Television– TV being made for the binge without regard to episodes as coherent pieces of entertainment/art by themselves.

Detective Comics #47: A Robin War only entry to the stack; part three features most of the Robins (all of them except Dick in fact) in prison, while Dick goes after/convinces to help Jim Gordon/mecha-Bat. There’s also some good talking between Robins in the jail. Then Gordon/Grayson charge off and oh yeah, Talons are here. A slower issue but the Grayson/Gordan relationship is too good to pass up– since these two have known each other as Commissioner/Robin and then Commissioner/Batman, and now as Batman/spy it has a lot of play there.

We Are Robin #7: Robin War part four here; we get more Grayson/Gordon, and then we get a “fight” between Red Hood and Red Robin– not a real fight as they illicitly work together to free the captured Robins, but it was pretty satisfying to get Jason vs. Tim. Biggest problem dragging this issue itself down a bit– we barely get any of the usual “Middletown” Robin Cell– a little Duke Thomas, and them in the backgrounds. Still a good issue, but barely connected to the characters that are usually in it. Of course, since “We Are Robin” as a concept could touch on any Robins, and if it has a long run will inevitably feature other characters than the few we have been getting in the first arc (since the movement as depicted in Robin War is MUCH larger than I realized in this book to date) it still kind of qualifies as fitting.

Robin Son of Batman #7: This issue (part five of Robin War) finally features the Robins fighting the Talons. Robins vs. Owls if you will. I’d have liked a little more of that through this entire crossover, though what we get is solid. It also has Dick bursting in on the Court themselves, and shocker– its Lincoln March (again). Then the big reveal– the Court no longer wants Dick as their “Gray Son” because they now have Damian (the more killing Robin) to fill the role. This is the cliff hanger that leads into Robin War #2– which isn’t in my stack till January, so I have to wait a month for the conclusion. Overall I rate “Robin War” a success for sure though.

DK III The Master Race Book Two/ Dark Knight Universe Presents Wonder Woman #1: So we have Carrie Kelly being questioned by the comissioner which seems pointless– why she let herself get caught only to later escape, ect, ect is all just a blur. Why she wants people to believe Bruce Wayne is dead when he isn’t is completely obtuse here. Then we get Ray Palmer and Lara Kent/Supergirl and they are de-shrinking Kandor. Palmers succeeds and poof– a bunch of Kryptionians now full size! Then, one of them– their evil leader we will assume, shrinks Palmer and steps on him. So now we know what “The Master Race” refers to, as a city full of Kryptonians seem poised to conquer the earth. Then there is the reveal that Bruce Wayne is (predictably) alive. Decent book, but having half of it seem completely pointless capture/escape really knocks this prestige project down a rank.

The mini was again, more fun than the big book. It features Lara training against Wonder Woman. The end line “I’m not like you. . . I’m Kryptonian” seems to tease that Lara is going to join the evil Krypton guys in their plan to take over the world, which is pretty disappointing. I’m tired of people wearing the S not being the good guys, but whatever. This is a mini, so of course if you have bought the first two you are going to finish it out, and it has a big prestige push– but I don’t think this is living up to even Dark Knight Strikes Back, much less Dark Knight Returns.

Secret Six #9: This feels a bit better than the last few issues of the series. We open on some Justice League Dark types talking about how awful Black Alive is; then we get the end of the Catman/Aquaman battle which of course finishes when Porcelain smashes the pillar they were here to smash and they teleport out. Then its off to Perdition, so everyone dresses in old time-y clothes, except Strix who wears a purple prom dress. The Stryx humor was really solid this issue. Then they kill another pillar, but also squash the cthulu thing that the pillar was keeping locked away. Then the last page cliff hanger has Black Alice asking Scandal Savage to kill her (for the good of the universe of course). A good issue to get this book back on track after a few muddled runs recently.

Cyborg #6: The end of the techno-sapiens story line. Vic uses his new “regeneration” protocols to cure the computer virus that is making them so nasty. Problem solved, they fade away/deactivate and only a few escape to another part of the multi-verse. Then the big reveal that Vic can now regenerate and be basically human (or human appearing), but that he is not comfortable looking this way and revealing this to anyone yet. Seems like a good character direction to head in here, and this has been a good run for a character who has been long overdue for a long running solo book. I can only hope that sales, or the cross marketing desire to push Cyborg for the upcoming movies keep this one in the publication schedule for a good long time.

Midnighter #7: The first 2/3rds of this book is a pretty brutal fight with Prometheus. Hard to really describe, but its the kind of bloody, brutal, vicious violence we have come to expect from this book. Then we get some “putting life stuff together” pages, and Deadshot which I assume sets up the next story line. Sidebar on that– Deadshot is EVERYWHERE right now. Or Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The Suicide Squad hype machine is in full effect. I’m not complaining– we are getting some new Deadshot collected editions for which I am greatful, but maybe we don’t need him in every single title over the next few months?

Second side note– Midnighter is hovering down under 10K in sales, towards 7K– hoping this book keeps going because it is a definitive success artistically and deserves to flourish despite low sales– so if you haven’t checked it out– do! Its really, really good, and is still currently the only solo title from either DC or Marvel headlined by a gay male hero.

Batman Beyond #7: In the first post-Brother Eye issue we get Barbara Gordon (now in her late forties or fifties or something) working with Tim Drake to fix the Batman Beyond suit. Why Tim, who fought crime without a super high tech suit thinks that Batman is dead without it, but go with it. He gets the suit up and running, punks some Jokers, and then Terry McGinnis’s little brother (reminder, Terry went to the past [but still in the future from current timeline books] and died there trying to stop Brother Eye [but failing] which is why five years from now Tim is in 35 years from now with old Barbara Gordon.)  For the record, explaining the complex set up for this book does never get old! Glad to have a Brother Eye-less issue. Seems like the book is finally, 7 issues in, heading towards what we wanted when it launched.

Catwoman #47: New creative team here (Frank Tieri writing and Inaki Miranda on art, plus Eva De La Cruz on colors) and while I am sorry to see Genevieve Valentive/David Messina/Gaetano Carlucci go (whose last series on this book was basically a masterpiece), the new direction/set up here is interesting. Seems that the book is taking a turn toward burglar Catwoman, leaving the mob politics behind. Though the setup also includes an old fence of Selena’s being murdered and her set up. I’m looking forward to some heist action, and I’ll stick on the book for now at least.

Aquaman #47: Overall forgettable issue; some Justice Leaguers and Arthur are fighting both Thule guys and current Atlantis, then Mera escapes. I had this issue rated fairly high before the Robin War books all stole the top third of the ratings, but this arc has been troubled at best, and nothing here really stood out after the fact.

Deathstroke #13: We get the finish of the prison break in story here– Catwoman Harley Quinn (see above about Suicide Squad being everywhere), and our boy Slade versus prisoners, prison guards, and a bad guy I’m not familiar with named “Snakebite”. Rose isn’t in Blackgate, and Snakebite escapes, so the quest to find his daughter will continue next issue. Decent start to this arc, but I like it less than the last one that pulled me into this book. Hard to say if Deathstroke will remain a fixture in my stack— especially after realizing how thick my stack has grown as of this month. Its possible that as Robin War falls out of the lineup it will thin down a bit (I’m not adding any of the books I didn’t already have that I picked up this month for Robin War going forward, but I did recently add both Action Comics and Superman to the pull list.) Also, I know a few of the books in my stack are minis/maxis (Titans Hunt and DK III) so they will naturally fall out as well, at a minimum I am still in on Deathstroke for now.

Teen Titans #15: Against a back drop of the Robin War, the Titans square off with Professor Pyg who the end teases is now working for Brother Blood, so a new school Batman villain plus a classic Titans villain that works as a really good pairing. This issue suffered badly from being a tie in. If we had just a bit more of the core story and ditched the tie-in panels it would have been more clean (which for a book that borders on hard to follow recently would have helped). The tie in stuff didn’t add anything to this issue, and didn’t add anything to the Robin War event. I’d say anyone who is not a Titans reader regularly and dropped in because it said Robin War on the cover were probably pretty frustrated.

Red Hood Arsenal #7: A Robin War tie in that I picked up solely because of the tie in. And again, its split and barely touches on the crossover storyline. Here we get some good Tim/Jason stuff about following Dick and then Jason as Robin, but it was just a few pages and then an absolutely unconnected story where Arsenal and Joker’s Daughter (I guess she’s in this book now) fight some circus freaks. Decent book, but another miss on the tie in, and not enough to bring me onto this book, despite my general like of both the title characters.

New Suicide Squad #15: Here we get Waller and crew busting into a corporate facility that is all tied up in the Vic Sage attempted Squad takeover. A lot of this issue is talking heads of Waller squaring off with some white lady we’ve never seen before, but whose part of Leviathan I guess? Yeah, too much talking heads here. Also the last few issues have tried to humanize Parasite, but yeah not really buying him as anything but muscle– especially when his story line is being powerless and passed out and not talking.

Titans Hunt #3: We start with Gar Aqualad fighting against Donna Trois and also trying to strangle Dick Grayson to death. They eventualy find a Teen Titans clubhouse, and all have memory problems. Then Roy Harper drunk in jail gets shot at by Caveboy, and catches the arrow– because apparently he forgot that he is Speedy and didn’t know he could catch the arrow despite all the running around with Red Hood he’s done in the new 52? So confused on everything here still. Hopefully issue four starts to make some sense.

Justice League #46: Wonder Woman and some of her side are fighting against Apokolips guys (after a reminder that everyone is gods now), and then Aquaman and Wonder Woman almost kiss out of seemingly nowhere, but oh hey, Superman is an angry evil god now and that leads into Grail (the spooky half Amazon half-Darkseid chick) getting the anti-life equation and becoming the “Goddess of Anti-Life”. So many problems with this confusing, muddled story line, but toss into the mix handing out the mcguffin that Darkseid has searched for unsuccessfully for 100 years randomly to his even eviler daughter after he’s dead.

Gotham Academy #13: So there’s a random really lame looking Robin at the Academy (since this is a Robin War tie in) who finds Zombies in the Greenhouse. Then Riko from We Are Robin is here, and gets caught by the Academy Girls, and then there’s a green Zombie and Maps is trying to save Riko when she gets arrested but Damian shows up and talks her out of it. Pretty meh, all around, like all the tie-ins have been this event. I guess bad tie-ins, good main book or something like that. Needless to say, although I liked the first trade when I checked it out from the library, I’m not jumping onto Gotham Academy anytime soon past this tie-in issue.

Martian Manhunter #7: This book is troubled. Super confusing issue; we have Martian Manhunter fighting the now Martian looking Pearl, and other parts of him are still here, but we are on Mars, and the little girl who was with Mr. Biscuits is grown up now, and there are Martian tanks? Definitively the bottom running book in my stack and its holding on for continued purchase by a string. I think the sales numbers agree, and I don’t expect this one to continue (and unlike Dr. Fate and Midnighter, I don’t really hope it gets a reprieve.)

David Bowie: RIP

Bowie