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Rearranging the deck chairs: DC Rebirth titles, Week Two!

by  in Comic News Comment
Rearranging the deck chairs: DC Rebirth titles, Week Two!

It’s the second week of DC‘s latest Great Rebirthening, and if you thought I was going to bail on these posts after one week of fairly mediocre comics, you thought wrong! I have store credit and I’m not afraid to use it, so let’s check out the shiny new books that DC unleashed upon us this week!

I have no idea what the comments section will look like this week, but last week’s was fun, wasn’t it? Here’s the thing about negative comments: I don’t think they bother any of our writers, least of all me (the death threats and rape threats are a whole different animal, of course – I’m talking about people getting angry because you don’t love Batman as much as they do). I appreciate anyone taking the time to write something at the end of the post. What bugs me, and always has, are the drive-by trolls. People yell at me and when I bother to respond and try to address their criticisms, I never hear from them again. I have gotten in decent debates in the past with people who didn’t like what I wrote, because they actually came back. I have no problem if you think I’m a Marvel shill (or a DC shill, which I get when I rip something from Marvel). But if I point to places where I have been just as critical of Marvel as I am of DC (and you might note I never buy Marvel single issues, because I refuse to let them rob me by charging 4 dollars for a 20-page comic), don’t be a douchebag and never come back. We’re all friends here! (And I did enjoy the comments by people who thought I was too enthusiastic about Wacky Raceland. You can’t please anyone, it seems, so why try?)

That being said, some of the Rebirth books this week were … kind of good? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!?!?!? Let’s get to it!

Action Comics #957 (“Path of Doom”) by Dan Jurgens (writer), Patrick Zircher (artist), Tomeu Morey (colorist), Rob Leigh (letterer), Paul Kaminski (associate editor), Mike Cotton (editor), and ALLEGED SERIAL SEXUAL HARASSER Eddie Berganza (group editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Lex Luthor created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Maggie Sawyer created by John Byrne. Jonathan Samuel Kent created by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks. Doomsday created by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern.

I don’t know if this is a spoiler, but Doomsday shows up at the end of this comic. I mean, DC is coy about it in Previews, but when you get the comic, the title is “Path of Doom,” which kind of gives the game away. Anyway, Doomsday shows up at the end of this comic. Sorry if that ruined your day.

This is a Dan Jurgens-written comic, and one thing I’ve always said about Dan Jurgens is that he’s the very definition of mediocre. He’s not terrible, but he’s not very good, either. His comics are moderately entertaining and instantly forgettable. He’s the color beige. He’s a dinner of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. He’s The Big Bang Theory. He’s an innings eater – he’ll give you 7 innings with 3-5 runs given up for 15 years, and if he gets lucky he might win 17 games one year, but usually he’s trucking along at 12-9 every season. Jurgens has written (and drawn) one of the most famous comics ever – the death of Superman – but that’s famous not because Jurgens wrote and drew it, but because DC editorial mandated that Superman had to die, and Jurgens just happened to be working on the book at that time. No one has ever said, “Man, Dan Jurgens is working on that book – I have to get it!” They’ve said, “Hey, I dig [insert corporate character here], so I’m going to get that comic!” and only later do you realize that Jurgens wrote and/or drew it. I have absolutely nothing against Dan Jurgens – he’s made a nice career in comics. But I never think I’m going to get a super comic when Jurgens is involved, either. (With one caveat: His run on Thor, which was pretty keen.)

However … Jurgens does know how to put a comic together, and he apparently knows how to adjust his storytelling to 20 pages, which I noted last week seems to be a problem for some writers. There are some splash pages in this comic (three, to be exact, showing our three main characters), but they serve a better purpose, it feels, than just giving Patrick Zircher a chance to make some money selling the original art. In both Luthor’s and Doomsday’s splash pages, the point is that the story leads up to a big reveal – in the first case, we think Superman is fighting bad guys, but it’s Luthor wearing Superman armor that looks only slightly better than his awful green-and-purple ensemble. In the second case, Doomsday shows up to kick ass, so it’s kind of a big moment. Even when Superman gets a splash, it’s the “return” of the real Superman, as Original Recipe Clark shaves his beard (yay!), dons the blue-and-red underwear, and flies off in a huff because Luthor is saving lives? Yeah, OG Supes has some issues with Luthor. So the splash pages are a bit gratuitous, but they’re worked into the narrative better than we saw in some of the comics last week. On the other 17 pages, Jurgens and Zircher manage to pack quite a lot of information, so whether you like the story or not (I’ll get to that!), you can’t deny that it feels more meaty than three of the four comics that DC launched last week.

There’s a lot to unpack with this issue, and it – like the other DC Rebirth titles – is in the unenviable position of trying to make sense of continuity for readers who might have dropped out when the New 52 fired up while still reassuring those readers who came on board or stayed on board that, no, this isn’t really a reboot! I freely admit that I have no idea what the status is of several characters, including why Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane are no longer together (which I could have figured out from this comic, as Maggie is back across the bay in Metropolis – please tell me the two cities are across the bay from each other like they are in Batman V. Superman, because that’s such a stupid idea that I think it’s kind of awesome – but which gets confirmed in Detective Comics) and what Luthor’s deal is, but that makes me just like Olde-Tyme Clark, because no one watching Luthor fly around in his overcompensating armor seems to care that he’s doing it, and only Byrne-Clark seems offended that such a bad guy is doing good things. But I’m willing to ignore that, because it’s nothing that bothers me too much … I just wonder if DC has thought about this too much. If they’re trying to lure back readers who dumped them five years ago, are they going to address this? Is Luthor really a not-so-bad guy in this universe? He seemed like a douchebag when Morrison was writing Action Comics, but now he’s a member of the Justice League?

So Supes, of course, doesn’t take kindly to this. He just wants to chill on a farm with Lois and little Jonathan (when DC had something in Previews that Superman had a kid, I mentioned that he’d totally be named Jonathan, so I’m glad I’m as unimaginative as the DC higher-ups), but Luthor saving hostages from armed gunmen is something up with which he will not put!!!! The one interesting thing Jurgens does in this comic is make Original Recipe Clark absolutely and completely wrong. Luthor is chillaxing, rescuing people and just hanging in the air, being totally megalomaniacal as he always is but not doing anything even remotely wrong and Supes just straight up attacks him. Luthor responds poorly by shooting a lot of bullets at Supes, but still – he was just “defending” himself, and it’s odd that bystanders – Jimmy Olsen among them – don’t make a bigger deal about it. If – a big “if,” of course – Jurgens and other Superman writers are going to explore this – Luthor could be interesting as a douchebag hero rather than a douchebag villain – that might make the books worth checking out. Plus, there’s a surprise guest star in this comic! Who could it be?!?!?!? It’s another potentially interesting plot point, depending on where they go with it.

I’ve always liked Zircher, even he’s not my favorite artist, and he does a good job here. He can vary from a solid line to a scratchy one quite well depending on the tone of the book, so he keeps it clean here, which is fitting. The fight between Superman and Luthor works well, especially with Morey adding bright splashes of color to the weapons and some of the impacts, making the fight look both more impactful but also not too terrifying. Zircher also gives both Maggie and Lois short hair (well, Maggie always has short hair, of course), which is h-a-w-t. Zircher won’t be drawing all the issues of Action, naturally (because DC wants to double-ship some titles, which is idiotic), but he’s a good artist to relaunch the book with.

This is a pretty good way to re-introduce people to the Superman status quo. I didn’t love last week’s Superman: Rebirth because it was too talky and took 13 pages to tell what could have been done in half that space, but it feels more “necessary evil” than anything else, because Jurgens brings in the fact that New 52 Superman is totes dead but doesn’t need to explain everything about it. He can’t resist over-writing, especially when it comes to the Super-Family talking about doing stuff because it’s the right thing to do (Lois, at least, mentions that OG Clark has no proof that Nu-Skool Luthor is eeeeeevil), but Jurgens generally keeps things moving along. It’s a decent, efficient comic, which is something Jurgens does well. It’s also not the greatest thing you’ll ever read, which is something else Jurgens does well!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Aquaman: Rebirth (“The Drowning Prologue: After the Deluge”) by Dan Abnett (writer), Scot Eaton (penciler), Oscar Jiménez (artist), Mark Morales (inker), Gabe Eltaeb (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Brian Cunningham (editor), and Amedeo Turturro (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Aquaman created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Mera created by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy. Garth created by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. Black Manta created by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.

The last time I really liked an Aquaman comic was when Peter David was writing the character. The last time I thought Aquaman was awesome was in Morrison’s JLA. I know those comics came out a long time ago, but I’ve never been that interested in the character, and writers don’t really seem to know what to do with him (I do own the two collections of Jeff Parker’s run on the New 52 title, but I haven’t read them yet, so maybe that will be good). It’s not, I have to stress, that I don’t think he’s a good character. I think he’s a perfectly fine character, but I’m just not that into him. It happens. Some of you crazy people who are crazy don’t like Looker. I can’t understand it, but it happens.

I’m stressing this because for the second time in five years, a #1 issue of Aquaman is overwhelmingly about how “surface dwellers” – meaning the readers of DC comics – don’t think he’s cool. Five years ago, it was Geoff Johns wasting our time trying to convince us that Aquaman is cool. Now it’s Abnett, using some of the same stuff that Johns used. Black Manta is narrating, as he’s telling us that Aquaman is king of the ocean, which is really big so he has so many responsibilities (the kids love hearing about how cool someone is because they have so many responsibilities), and that Aquaman doesn’t really talk to fish, but the belief that he does has made him a “running joke” in popular culture. Then he suddenly switches to how the “surface dwellers” don’t trust him because he’s a “dangerous” – I guess Gotham City got flooded a year ago and some dude lost his home but Aquaman never compensated him, but I wonder if the dude has ever thought of suing Batman and the GCPD for the revolving door jail/asylum they’re running – and that even a lot of Atlanteans don’t like him. Luckily, Mera is there to eat chowder with him at the same diner where Aquaman #1 took place five years ago (I assume; it seems a good bet), so he’s set. Good for him.

Aquaman does punch some Atlantean terrorists in this issue, dudes who want to blow up his embassy outside Boston so that the world knows Aquaman is a punk, so there’s that (also, I find it humorous that a dude dressed like this says that Arthur “dress[es] like a surface fool”). He also convinces Mera to actually eat chowder, which is hella cool, of course. But what Peter David and Grant Morrison did was show Aquaman doing cool shit and not narrating about how no one thinks he’s cool. SHOW THE CHARACTER DOING COOL SHIT AND IT WON’T BE A PROBLEM!!!! Aquaman does some cool shit in this issue, so why did Abnett feel the need to throw all these narrative boxes in about how he’s perceived by others? We know all that, because we’re the ones doing the perceiving! Just like Johns five years ago, this book is metatextual in that it’s not trying to convince the denizens of the DCU that Aquaman is cool, it’s trying to convince all the nerds who grew up with him in the SuperFriends that he’s cool. The nerds, I might point out, already know most of the shit you’re using to convince us – maybe they don’t know that Mera is back from the dead or that she’s not a big fan of the surface world herself, but the broad strokes are well known. Writing about how cool Aquaman is doesn’t help. SHOWING how cool Aquaman is certainly would.

So Aquaman thwarts a terrorist plot and Black Manta swears revenge AGAIN. It’s kind of dull, and Eaton’s bland pencils don’t do much to make it less so. Eaton is a perfectly fine artist, but he’s not the kind of guy you’re going to get too excited about. “Oh,” you’ll say, seeing his name, “this comic will look okay, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get it just because of the art.” Jiménez is slowly making his re-entry into the world of comics, and he draws five pages, which look fine. I’m not sure how Manta gets some of the camera footage he does, as it appears he’d need small drone cameras flying really close to Arthur’s face, but it’s comics – I can forgive some of the goofier aspects of it.

This is a mediocre comic that, I guess, gets the job done laying the groundwork for the ongoing (which is what it’s supposed to do) but, even with Abnett assuring us that Aquaman is really cool, doesn’t do much to make me excited about it. It’s just kind of there. I know that some of the Rebirth books aren’t very good, but some of them are pretty decent, so there’s no excuse for this. I guess Aquaman gets to fight giant dinosaur-type monsters, so … yay?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Detective Comics #934 (“Rise of the Batmen Part 1: The Young and the Brave”) by James Tynion IV (writer), Eddy Barrows (penciler), Eber Ferreira (inker), Adriano Lucas (colorist), Marilyn Patrizio (letterer), Dave Wielgosz (assistant editor), and Chris Conroy (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Batman created by that guy and that guy. Azrael created by Denny O’Neil and Joey Q. Kate Kane created by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Ken Lashley. Big Daddy Kane created by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III. Stephanie Brown created by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle. Tim Drake created by Marv Wolfman and Pat Broderick. Cassandra Cain created by Kelley Puckett, Damion Scott, and Jordan B. Gorfinkel. Basil Karlo created by that guy.

Tynion gives us a solid “gathering the team” issue of Detective, as Batman finds out that someone is gunning for Gotham’s vigilantes (we see them on the final page, but it’s still vague who they are, and this is the second comic this week in which bad guys are surveilling the good guys, which provides us a handy way to follow them around), so he recruits a bunch of them to fight back. So he gets Batwoman to be his co-leader and Robin (I refuse to call Tim Drake Red Robin, because that’s too stupid and it makes me hungry for a chili chili cheeseburger), Spoiler, and Orphan – yeah, that’s what Cassandra Cain is calling herself these days – as well as Clayface, because why the hell not add Clayface? “Gathering the team” issues are a staple of comics (and pop culture in general – occasionally there’s even a musical montage to accompany it!), and this one is perfectly fine. It helps that Tynion begins with someone who looks suspiciously like Batman attacking Azrael in a church, which is a pretty danged cool scene. It’s the inciting event that makes Batman decide to form his team, but it’s a neat moment all on its own. Tynion, like a lot of these writers in these set-up issues, gives us a lot of information, but it’s not as annoying as in some, because with Kate Kane, he does it through a conversation she has with her dad (where I learned she was no longer engaged to Maggie Sawyer), and with the others, he does it through Batman briefing Kate Kane about them (I’m ignoring the fact that every one of the “kids” has more experience as a vigilante than Kate does but she’s the co-leader – she’s the adult, so that’s that, I guess). While he’s briefing her, we get nice scenes of them kicking butt, so there’s plenty of action on the page even though Batman is just reciting their biographies.

Then we get to Clayface, and DC’s odd continuity rears its ugly head again. The DC Clayface legacy is convoluted at the best of times, and I imagine the New 52 didn’t do much to make it easier to untangle. This Clayface is Basil Karlo, the “first” Clayface from 1940, who was once an actor. That hasn’t changed. Basil got old and became a “true” Clayface in the “Mudpack” story in Detective Comics #604-607 (guest-starring Looker, because it always comes back to Looker!), but I’m not sure what happened to him or all the other Clayfaces after that. Here’s the problem, though – Batman offers Basil a job. He says the only difference between Basil the actor and Basil the Clayface is an accident, and that he can give Basil his life back. That’s all well and good, but this must be a different Basil Karlo than the Original Recipe Basil Karlo, because that dude was a stone cold killer, and Batman don’t make no deals with stone cold killers! (He might laugh at a joke with them, but he doesn’t make deals!!!!) So is this a New 52 Basil Karlo who wasn’t a stone cold killer? If so, fine, but it gets back to the point of using old names that have resonance for new-ish characters. If, in the New 52, someone wanted to create a Clayface, why use the name of any of the old Clayfaces? Wasn’t the New 52 supposed to draw in new readers who (theoretically) didn’t know anything about the old characters? So the only reason to use a name like “Basil Karlo” is so old readers can chuckle and say, “Hey, I remember that guy.” But then you get people (like me) who wonder what this character’s history is, because the “real” Basil Karlo didn’t become Clayface by accident – in his first appearance he just wore a mask and straight up killed people, and when he did become a “real” Clayface, it wasn’t in any way by accident. So this bugged me a bit. Just give him a different name! (I guess he appeared in “Death of the Family,” which I actually read. Man, that thing was so bad I must have erased all knowledge of it from my memory.)

Anyway, the writing is good, the banter is decent, there’s even a funny moment when Basil wonders how he’s supposed to follow the troops as they swing away on ropes. The art makes the book better, though, as Eddy Barrows continues to impress. When I got Martian Manhunter #1 last year, I was surprised by how much better Barrows had gotten since I’d last seen his art, and he continues that stellar work on this comic. He, Ferreira, and Lucas create a softer line for the art, but Barrows’s work is able to withstand the digital coloring, and Lucas is good at rendering so that the coloring doesn’t overwhelm the line work. The first page is a good example of this, as we get crisp lines on Azrael’s armor set against the warm candle glow from inside the church. It’s winter, so we get snow in the outdoor scenes, which adds a layer of calmness to everything that belies the action happening in front of us. Barrows also uses interesting angles in some panels so that the book becomes more interesting, and his fight scenes are quite good. The scene with Basil is beautifully drawn, as the artists soften the movie that Basil is watching (starring himself, of course) to contrast it with the “real” world, and we get few holding lines on Clayface’s face to show how malleable he is. The comic is gorgeous to look at, which in such a visual medium is not a bad thing at all.

I’ve never been a big fan of Tynion – I haven’t read a lot of his comics, true, but what I have read have just been okay, nothing special – but this is not a bad set-up issue. It’s one of those ideas that doesn’t seem to have legs beyond an initial arc, but it’s a good way to get characters who don’t have their own books (it’s okay for characters to not have their own books, DC!) to get involved. And who doesn’t love Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain? Commies, that’s who.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

The Flash: Rebirth (“… Doomed to Repeat it …”) by Joshua Williamson (writer), Carmine Di Giandomenico (artist), Ivan Plascencia (colorist), Steve Wands (letterer), Amedeo Turturro (assistant editor), and Brian Cunningham (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Barry Allen created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino. Wally West created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. David Singh created by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul. Batman created by those two guys.

I like Joshua Williamson – Nailbiter and Birthright are two excellent and completely different comics, which shows his skill and his versatility – but it can’t be fun for him writing The Flash. Thanks to the worst idea in comics history, he’s stuck dealing with a DC Universe in which there is a very real possibility that Batman will fight Rorschach simply because idiotic fanboys think it will be cool. Plus, Barry Allen is kind of central to this stupid conceit, so Williamson is hamstrung from the get-go, which makes this a fairly dull issue. First of all, he has to hit the emotional beats of Barry’s story, and if there’s one thing worse than seeing Batman’s parents get gunned down in every other issue of a Batman comic, it’s hearing about Barry’s mom getting killed in a typical issue of The Flash. So there’s that, which is insufferable. Then we have to see the scene with Wally again, because there is probably one or maybe two people in the world who are reading this but decided not to read DC Universe: Rebirth. So that’s a waste. Then Barry decides to visit Batman, because DC Editorial has to push the “Watchmen” subplot forward, and it can’t infect the Batman books, can it, because those actually sell on their own merits and don’t need a gimmick. So we get nothing from that except vagueness. And then there’s a mysterious speedy figure at the end. It’s a snoozefest, honestly, but I can’t blame Williamson too much – this is sausage-making at its most egregious, and Williamson just happened to be there when DC needed a butcher. I’m not a huge fan of Di Giandomenico’s art, either – the hands and feet of his Flashes are weirdly huge, which is strange because Barry’s hands look inordinately, Trumpishly small – but he tells the story perfectly well. The art looks a bit too “digital” for me – I know a lot of art is done on computers these days, but some of it looks more “organic” than others – but that’s just a personal preference. Di Giandomenico doesn’t do anything to make the art unclear, which is the first rule of artwork. But he also can’t rescue the bland story, which great art can do occasionally.

The Flash is one of those characters that I just don’t connect with, but that doesn’t mean I won’t buy a Flash comic just because of that (I bought the entire Buccellato/Manapul New 52 run, for instance, and enjoyed it quite a bit). This comic, however, is not really created as a comic that stands on its own. DC has decided to tie this entire “Rebirth” thing into Barry Allen and Wally West, and at least they don’t forget about the stupid plot point (I’m hoping they resolve it far sooner than later), but that means this comic is trying to do too much, and one thing it’s not trying to do is tell a coherent story. As with a lot of comics writers whose independent work is better than their corporate work, if this means Williamson moves a few more units of Nailbiter or Birthright or even simply gives him the capital to continue those series, it’s a win. That doesn’t mean this is a good comic, though.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Wonder Woman: Rebirth by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Clark (penciler), Liam Sharp (artist), Sean Parsons (inker), Jeremy Colwell (colorist), Laura Martin (colorist), Jodi Wynne (letterer), Dave Wielgosz (assistant editor), and Chris Conroy (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston.

When DC Universe: Rebirth came out, Comics Alliance did a roundtable discussion about it called “Everyone is Hawkman.” It’s a fairly decent discussion (Comics Alliance is a pretty good site, even if Chris Sims no longer does “Funkywatch”), but the title was pretty awesome. It stayed with me, naturally, or I wouldn’t be bringing it up, especially with regard to Wonder Woman: Rebirth. Because I chuckled a lot when I was reading this book, and it’s not a very funny comic. Wonder Woman has become Hawkman, basically, and it’s fascinating to watch this trainwreck unfold in real time, mainly because it happened over decades with Hawkman and has happened just the tiniest bit more quickly with Wonder Woman. The first 14 pages of this comic – the ones Clark draws – are Rucka recapping Wonder Woman’s many origins and coming up with the fact that she has been “deceived.” So how many times has she been deceived about her origins now? She heads off to Olympus (which pages are drawn by Sharp) and tells some unseen force that she will have the truth, damn it! And … scene.

I guess we have to give credit to Rucka for tackling this mess head-on, but it’s still hilarious and stupid. It’s a lot of wheel-spinning about her past, and reading it all laid out like this makes it hilarious, because it reads like a blog post of someone laying out decades of history in a condensed period so you realize how ridiculous the passage of time in comics really is (FotB John Seavey wrote this tremendous post five years ago showing everything that happened in the Marvel Universe between Kitty Pryde’s 14th and 15th birthdays – this comic is like that, a little bit). This is one of the worst symptoms of comics, especially more modern comics, as they accrete history, all of which “counts.” Comics become backward-looking as writers (and readers) demand that things make “sense.” Listen – Wonder Woman is a woman with superhuman strength and a lasso that compels people to tell the truth. Very little about her makes sense, as very little about Superman, Batman, the Flash, Aquaman, and every other single fucking superhero character makes sense. There is no need to rehash her convoluted past – just tell stories about her kicking ass in the name of peace, man! This is why nostalgia is deadly to comics (and pop culture in general), especially when so many cooks have been involved in making the goulash. Yes, if one creator (or creative team) is working on a comic and they’re the only ones who ever will, it’s fine to go back and subvert what you saw the first time, but Wonder Woman (and her ilk) have been around for decades, with a bunch of people writing her. It’s stupid to try to reconcile her various origins, and Rucka shouldn’t try. Because, let’s say he writes a cool story that reconciles all the weird stories of Wonder Woman’s origins. Guess what? Someone else will come along and tell us that everything we knew about Wonder Woman is wrong, including Rucka’s origin. And the ouroboros will continue to eat its own tail. Rucka wrote a great run on Wonder Woman over a decade ago (until it got derailed by Infinite Crisis), so he knows how to write the character without getting convoluted. He still might. But this issue was dumb.

A few years ago, when I wrote about superhero comics needing more innovators, art-wise, I brought up Matthew Clark as an example of someone who does not innovate, which caused a tiny bit of controversy. Clark is a perfectly fine artist – like, say, Scot Eaton – but he doesn’t push the boundaries at all, and it shows in this comic. It’s a pleasant-looking comic, highlighted by a really nice double-page spread in which Diana smashes a mirror and Clark shows various scenes from her life in the glass shards (I can appreciate a good double-page spread when it’s not wasteful!). Sharp has a more distinctive style, and he and Martin make Olympus a hellish place with creepy statues assaulting Wonder Woman, and it’s a nice shift. I like Sharp a bit more than Clark, but they both do decent work. But like every other DC Rebirth book so far, there’s not a lot of innovation. The artists lay out pages in as bland as way as possible, and everything looks pleasant but not terribly interesting. I didn’t mean to pick on Clark back when I wrote that post (I was pointing out that DC was using him on a doomed book like Doom Patrol when they knew it was doomed and therefore could get an artist who would take some chances because who cares?, but, I mean, Clark could have done some wacky shit, too, because the point was that no one was reading Doom Patrol), and I’m not picking on him now. He’s a decent artist. Most of the people (men, I should say, as none have been women yet) working on these comics are decent. With a very few exceptions, though, the pages have been bland. Oh well.

I have more trust in Rucka than I do a lot of writers on these books (not that I’ll buy the single issues, but perhaps I’ll get the trades), but this is not a great start. WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE INCONSISTENCIES IN WONDER WOMAN’S BACKGROUND! Well, I don’t. Just tell good Wonder Woman stories. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

**********
All right, let’s talk about other, more boring things. Like the advertisements in these comics. Holy shit, are there a lot of ads. DC is committed to keeping the prices at $2.99, but they’re shipping these twice a month, which presumably offsets the fact that they can barely survive on a $2.99-priced comic. Nobody knows how the interior economics of DC or Marvel works (possibly not even the people who are supposed to), so who knows what the deal is, but there are a shitload of ads in these books. I know it’s a new initiative, so they’re promoting it heavily, but does anyone think they’re going away any time soon? The Rebirth books all have that giant Superman promotion in the center of the books, which is extremely annoying. There’s a picture of some kid looking up at a Superman poster holding a gigantic copy of DC Universe: Rebirth (there’s so much wrong with that promotion, as kids don’t read DC comics and that copy of DC Universe: Rebirth is comically large), then there are two pages about the various Superman books and the characters within, three pages of a video game ad, a page with a very short and very stupid interview with Peter Tomasi (not that Tomasi is stupid, it’s just that there’s really no substance to the interview at all), and a final page with an advert for the same video game. So in the middle of every Rebirth comic, we get eight (8!!!!!!) pages of ads that stop whatever momentum the story has dead in its tracks. Let’s take a look at the way the ads are dispersed in the comics:

Action: 4 pages of story, 1 ad (for Midtown Comics), 1 page, 1 ad (for DCBS), 2 pages, 1 ad (for Comic Collector Live), 1 page, 1 ad (for Batman: Rebirth), 1 page, 1 ad (for The Flash: Rebirth), 1 page, NINE FUCKING PAGES OF ADVERTISEMENTS (1 for Wonder Woman: Rebirth, and then the 8-page monstrosity I wrote about above), 2 pages, 1 ad (for Green Lanterns: Rebirth), 3 pages, 1 ad (for Titans: Rebirth), 5 pages, 1 ad (for Detective #934), 2 pages of tribute to Darwyn Cooke (which is nice), and then DC All Access, which is technically another ad. So we get 9 pages of story in two bursts to begin and end the issue, and in between we get 11 pages of story and 16 pages of ads, and then 2 ads and the tribute to Cooke at the end. And DC wonders why people read trades?

Aquaman: 8 (?????) pages, 1 ad, 5 pages (?????), 1 ad, 1 page, 8 ad pages, 4 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 8 pages of ads with the Cooke tribute in the middle of it. Why did DC put more of the ads in the back of Aquaman than it did for Action Comics?

Detective: 4 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 3 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 8 ad pages, 2 pages, 2 ads, 2 pages, 1 ad, 5 pages, 4 pages of ads with the Cooke tribute. Very similar to Action.

Flash: 8 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 5 pages, 8 ad pages, 4 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 8 ad pages, including the Cooke tribute.

Wonder Woman: 4 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 1 ad, 1 page, 2 ads, 2 pages, 1 ad, 1 page, 8 ad pages, 3 pages, 1 ad, 3 pages, 1 ad, 4 pages, 4 ad pages (in a twist, the first one is for Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, not for the ones I already noted, which are in the other four – maybe because it stars women, and Wonder Woman is a woman?), including the Cooke pages.

It’s fascinating that the comics with the “lesser” stars of the DCU – Aquaman and Flash – get more room to tell their stories (with more ads at the back of the books than the other three) than the ones with the “big guns.” Why is that? Every issue is split exactly between 20 story pages and 20 advertisement pages (which, yuck), but they’re placed differently, and I’m curious as to why. I assume the big-advert piece of shit 8 pages in the middle of each Rebirth issue won’t be there in the “regular” issues, but that still seems like a lot of advertisements. Yeah, I’ll wait for trades.

Now let’s talk about this site for a bit. I’m with many of you – it’s frustrating these days. We have new corporate overlords, and while they haven’t censored anything we’ve tried to write yet (and I very much doubt they will), they’re really trying to make some money, aren’t they? I wrote about the proliferation of advertisements on the blog a few months ago, before Jonah sold the site, and now they’re even worse. I absolutely hate the ads in the middle of the posts, and I sympathize with everyone trying to read. It really bugs me, too. I don’t know what to tell you about splitting posts into separate sections – I know it’s done to increase hits, which is fairly cynical, but I also know that some people will not read long posts if they think they’re too long but don’t mind reading them if they’re split into sections. It’s very weird, but the psychology of people is weird, too.

I don’t know what’s going on with the comments, but it’s also very annoying. I know some people were griping that their comments weren’t showing up, and I know that, because mine don’t always show up, either. However, I know they’re there, because I can see “backstage,” so to speak. A lot of them are getting flagged and need to be approved – I have never known why some do and some don’t need to be approved, but more of them seem to be ending up that way. The person who writes the post (or Brian, because he’s the Dread Lord and Master) has to approve the comments, so I can only say that if you don’t see your comment, be patient and it will probably get approved soon enough (I don’t work, so I can approve comments as soon as I see them, but maybe some of the other writers aren’t on the blog as much?). I don’t know what’s going on with the names and email addresses remaining in the fields, either. About half the time when I want to leave a comment, I’m already logged in and don’t have to worry about it, but it’s still happened to me plenty of times (and I’m always logged in, so I don’t know why it doesn’t always show that). I wish someone would figure it out, because it’s annoying, I agree. I don’t have the capability to fix it, but I just wanted to let you know that I go through the same things that many of you are going through.

I occasionally wish that the blog could revert to a simpler time – either when we had the buttons that sent us emails when someone responded to our posts, or when there was an edit button for individual posts at the bottom of them so I don’t have to search for them “behind the scenes” or even when we weren’t with CBR, even though the blog’s design was ugly and bland back then. We got tags back, which is very cool, but there are some other design flaws that I think could be fixed on the blog. I suspect the advertisements, which are awful, aren’t going anywhere, though. Dang.

Anyway, it’s Week Two of the Great Rebootening! What will we see in Week Three? The mind reels! Have a nice day, everyone!

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