Saturday, August 27, 2016

DC Rebirth (Salvo 3) Rapid-Fire Review

Hello pardners!!

     It's T-E-X...That's right, it's me!

         With a rapid-fire review of DC Rebirth Salvo 3!

1. "DC Universe Rebirth: All-Star Batman" #1 - It's a "Midnight Run" / superhero mash-up as Batman tries to cover 498 miles with Harvey Dent in tow - Batman's taking Dent to a place where the Two-Face persona can be destroyed forever...If Batman can get him through the waves of Gothamites that Two-Face has promised to pay stop him. In the back-up story, Batman's relationship with and training of Duke are explored as they track-down a knife-wielding sadist.

    Scott Snyder is back on Batman, and this issue is full-on action from the first page. We have some great dialogue between The Batman and Dent, and a very, very unexpected betrayal of Batman by someone you'd never believe capable of doing so. It looks like the beginning of a nice first arc for the return of this great series - good, not necessarily great. But Snyder is probably just warming up. John Romita, Jr. is on the pencils...And since I am by no means a fan of his artwork, I'll just leave off there. Snyder's back-up story, with art by Declan Shalvey is a more cerebral read than the main story, with better pacing and much better art. Loved it.

RATING: 8 out of 10.

2. "DC Universe Rebirth: Superwoman" #1 - After the death of the New 52 Superman, Lois Lane and Lana Lang use the superpowers they gained being bathed in the rays his violent death to protect the citizens of Metropolis. First up, saving the "new Superman," Lex Luthor, along with his employees, and stopping Luthor's billion-dollar battleship - created to protect Metropolis - from being used to obliterate thousands of lives.

    Phil Jimenez pulls double duty as both writer and artist on this really good first issue! While, I'm not totally sold on the premise yet, I like the way that this shakes up the DCU a bit. I think Jimenez's main success was the fact that he was able to give this book great pacing and lots of action, while not skimping at all on the exposition, nor the character development. The dynamic between Lois and Lana becomes a bit endearing...Until the hard "punch-in-the-gut" ending (which I am still unsure whether I like). Finally, Jimenez's pencils, with Jeromy Cox's colors, make this book very nice to look at.

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

3. "Supergirl: Rebirth" #1 - Kara Zor-El has only been on Earth a little while - long enough to strike a deal with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations to become Earth's newest protector after the death of Superman. But first, Kara must have her powers restored by being hurled into the heart of the sun...And she must deal a dangerous part of her father's legacy: Lar-On, a survivor, and later, an exile of Krypton's surviving city, Argo City. Lar-On is cursed with an illness that transforms him into a deadly monster, and he's got no love for the House of El...

    Steve Orlando scripts the story in this first issue that borrows heavily from the "Supergirl" TV series, with a few changes. Here, Supergirl arrives as a sixteen-year old, and is assigned as a foster child to D.E.O. Agents, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. The changes work well in the book, and I think that using the show's familiar characters and tone a bit is a good move, given how beloved the show has become. What's more is that it looks as if we'll get to explore Supergirl's own mythology as a separate entity from Superman's. Sweet. "Supergirl: Rebirth" #1 is a very comic-book-y comic book - a bit of a throw back - I dig that very much. And I have no idea who Emanuela Lupacchino is, but her artwork is GORGEOUS.

RATING: 8 out of 10 (not for any complexity, but for good, clean, comic-book-type fun).

4. "Deathstroke: Rebirth" #1 and "DC Universe Rebirth: Deathstroke" #1 - Dictator, Matthew Bland, AKA The Red Lion, has hired Deathstroke to complete a monstrous task - a task that will both free him to continue to commit genocide within his borders, and which will keep America out of his affairs. Deatshtroke completes the task; however, The Red Lion has a secret that could mean the end of Deathstroke...Or the recovery of Deathstroke's long-lost, most-trusted confidant. It's chess, not checkers, in the first issues of DC Rebirth's Deathstroke!

   Far and away, Christopher Priest's Deathstroke is THE BEST of all the Rebirth Wave 3 books. The story is all at once compelling, engrossing, lightly humorous, emotionally charged, full of action, and driven by fleshed-out, thought-out characters and dialogue. Flashbacks give us relevant parts of Deathstroke's past to seemingly inform us of who he is in the present; but, the world's greatest assassin never ceases to be totally unpredictable in these books. His motivations, his methods and his means all unfold before your eyes - captions are not used to communicate Slade's contemplations at all, they are only applied to tell the story in the flashbacks. I find it intriguing that the highly complex moves Deathstroke makes in these first issues only unfold with action with no thought or prevue revealed to the reader. Just like all the characters in the book, be it victim of, or friend to Slade Wilson, we just have to wait and see. Brilliant. Priest's writing, supported perfectly by the precise and lively pencils of Carlo Pagulayan, and the colors of Jeromy Cox, make this book a pure joy to read. Deathsroke is fire.

RATING: 10 out of 10.

5. "Blue Beetle: Rebirth" #1 - Jaime Reyes is a teenager who has an alien scarab which has grafted itself onto his back, and linked up with his nervous system...It also gives him wild powers that he sometimes is not able to control. Jaime has enlisted the aid of billionaire genius, Ted Kord, to help him remove the scarab from his body, but it seems that all Ted wants to do is team-up with Jaime to stop bad guys. When dangerous, seemingly indestructible new enemies, Rack and Ruin, call out Jaime's alter-ego, Blue Beetle, Jaime might just have reached the end of his life as a superhero - or the end of his life PERIOD. Can Jaime defeat Rack and Ruin? And why has Doctor Fate appeared to warn Kord about the powers of the scarab?

   Take a writer I love, and team him up with an artist I adore, and that makes a winner. Right? Wrong. Keith Giffen scripts this Blue Beetle story that just seems like it tries too hard at being funny, and just doesn't offer up enough about with Reyes nor Kord to make me dig this book, like, at all. And I love Giffen's stuff usually, especially when Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) are involved, but this book seemed so forced, taking the job of being funny too darn seriously. The banter ate up time that should have been used to develop the story and the characters. The best thing about the book was the villains, Rack and Ruin. They were nuts and just didn't care. As usual, Kolins' art was on point - the man KNOWS how to draw action sequences better most artists in comics today. But even his art couldn't save this book. It's a shame. Reyes is a great Blue Beetle; however, Blue Beetle (Reyes) and Kord, just isn't the team of Booster and Blue Beetle (Kord).

RATING: 6 out of 10.

6. "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1 and "DC Universe Rebirth: Suicide Squad" #1 - Amanda Waller seeks to convince Rick Flag, one of America's greatest operators - confined in Guantanamo Bay and abandoned by his country - to lead a squad of dangerous criminals to recover a scientist and his dangerous invention: a metahuman gene bomb. Later, Waller sends The Suicide Squad into the deepest reaches of Siberia to retrieve an item of cosmic proportions that crash-landed there. Will Flagg and Katana be able to lead this motley crew...or will they all end up on ice? Siberian ice, of course.

   Rob Williams does a really good job of scripting "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" #1. The story gives us a wonderful glimpse into the (possibly twisted) mind of Amanda Waller, her motivations and machinations, and gives us a great back-story on the well-oiled fighting machine that is Rick Flagg. Williams serves us some wonderfully tense dialogue in this issue, but misses the boat on giving us flashbacks for Flagg's backstory. We are told his backstory in dialogue and shown very little. Booo! We also get to see The Suicide Squad in crazy action which is communicated well, if a bit stiffly at times, through Philip Tan's very capable pencils, which sometimes leak out overly-lined, Rob Liefeld-like faces. The dialogue during the Suicide Squad's action sequences is like something from the film: fun, and nutty.

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

  "DC Universe Rebirth: Suicide Squad" #1 is a bit of a different story. It starts out somber and promising, anchored by Amanda Waller's always interesting musings, but it goes off the rails quickly. Nearly the entire book chronicles the Squad's failed insertion into Siberia. Sure some of the dialogue is chuckle-worthy, and sure, something happens to Croc that is a bit funny; however, none of that masks the fact that, by the end of the book, nothing much has happened at all. The entire book is wasted in banter that lasts several pages while these people are crashing. Double Booo! The only redeeming quality of this book is the story of Deadshot's rescue of his daughter and run-in with Batman in the back-up story. Williams killed on that story.

RATING: 6 out of 10.

7. "DC Universe Rebirth: Harley Quinn" #1 and #2 - Harley Quinn is back in Coney Island with her freakshow of friends - and it's QUITE a freakshow. There's just enough time for introductions when, a zombie horde overruns Harley's 'hood infected by tainted meat from a shape-shifting alien who was disguised as a cow (sound familiar?). She and her crazy cohorts, including the sword-packing dufus, Red Tool (REALLY?),  must fight for their lives. It's a zany, zombie-killing, fight-fest with Harley Quinn!

   As a guy who isn't a huge fan of Harley Quinn, I was surprised as how much I actually enjoyed these comics. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have created a mix of madness, mayhem and mirth in Harley's Quinn's latest outing. There are some obvious Marvel parodies here, from the storyline, to Red Tool, whose name and outfit look strangely familiar (wink, wink). At first, I found this book a bit idiotic and banal...Then I realized that the writers absolutely do not take these books seriously - with all the double-entendres and nonsensicality, it's meant to be nukin' futs fun, not serious comic-book fare. There's no denying there's plenty of crazy energy in this book - Chad Hardin's artwork is lots of fun, and there are lots of characters who only serve as foils for Harley's unbridled looniness. While this book is not my cup of tea, I can indeed appreciate it for what it is: an offbeat offering from DC Comics. If it weren't for so many naughty little bits, I'd let my daughter read it. I'm sure she'd laugh a whole lot.

RATING: 7.7 out of 10.

   Well, that's it for today comics fans! Please hit like if you enjoyed the reviews and PLEASE comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my reviews. Hey, you just might learn me sumthin'! And feel free to share my page with your friends!

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