“DC Universe Presents” #0 is the one book where the idea of the zero issue month presented the title with a bit of a quandary. Since there are no regular characters or even creators on the anthology title, there isn’t an instant answer to the question on whose origin you’d tell. Instead “DC Universe Presents” #0 settled on five stories of characters who don’t have their own titles and offers up their origins. Here’s the catch, though; four of the five had their titles cancelled earlier this year.
The opening feature brings “O.M.A.C.” back, and with the only original creative team at that. Keith Giffen, Dan DiDio and Scott Koblish deliver a lot more of the same larger-than-life, Jack-Kirby-influenced visuals and ideas that the original title was full of, only with just a handful of pages. The story really ends up tying together “O.M.A.C.” and the revelations from “Justice League International Annual” #1 into a cohesive whole, which is helpful and is perhaps a portent for things to come. Those who read “O.M.A.C.” will enjoy one last look at Giffen’s take on all things Kirby and it’s an explosion of big, bold art on the page. I doubt that any new readers will find themselves scrambling to find the eight issues of the original series, though; it doesn’t quite sell the book to the initiate. But with that in mind? This is one of the two best stories in the title.
The other good one is a “Deadman” story from Tony Bedard and Scott McDaniel. While Deadman hasn’t had his own comic, he did star in the opening “DC Universe Presents” storyline, although it was courtesy Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang instead. (He also served initially as a supporting character in “Hawk & Dove,” which we’ll get to shortly.) This story lacks some of the fun and inventiveness of that re-introduction courtesy Jenkins and Chang, but it plays off the same idea that Rama Kushna is moving Deadman from one situation to the next as a form of penance. The idea of Deadman jumping into his own killer is a good idea, but the story itself feels a little too predictable on what happens next. McDaniel’s art is fun in places, though; he’s playing a lot with horizontal bars in his designs, and the number of ring-shaped panels feel like they’re supposed to invoke a circus ring, so that’s nice. This story, if nothing else, seems to bring up the idea that a “Deadman” monthly series could work. While Bedard and McDaniel did a good enough job, it’s Jenkins and Chang that I’d rather see take over that potential title.
The remaining three stories all feel like they’re lacking anything of real interest. James Robinson and Tom Denerick take on a “Mr. Terrific” story; since the character’s been shipped off to “Earth 2” it makes sense for Robinson to tackle the character. The art is nice enough, but the story manages to be dull even as it fails to present any real origin beyond a scattershot handful of single images. “Hawk & Dove” with Rob Liefeld and Marat Mychaels is just boring, with War and Peace telling each other the origin of the characters. The art ranges from acceptable to flat (the side-profile drawings of Dove are shockingly bad), and there’s nothing here that would grab a reader’s desire for more. Bedard and Carlos Rodriguez on “Blackhawks” is a reminder that the original book was intensely boring, although this at least follows in those footsteps.
Ultimately, “DC Universe Presents” #0 is a reminder on why exactly these characters had their books cancelled. If this was the best that could be mustered up for these stories, hindsight makes one wonder if this could have instead kept the 64-page format but introduced a bunch of new characters into the DC Universe rather than dredging this group up one last time. With the shorter page count, some big artists might have even been enticed on board, although originally-solicited creators Eric Battle and CAFU were both missing in action from “DC Universe Presents” #0. This was a fun idea, but the actual execution ends up falling flat.