After months of anticipation, the first wave of Rebirth books has finally hit. With promising starts in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 and Detective Comics #934, it’s easy to be optimistic. And while most of us at Batman News were less-than-crazy about Batman: Rebirth #1, there were at least a few of you, dear readers, who enjoyed that book, as well. But what about the books that we don’t normally cover on the site? Some of you may be wondering if you should take a chance on these titles, and over the next few months, I’ll be dedicating lots of space in Break from the Bat to helping you make informed decisions about which ones to pick up. As usual, my fellow writers will be chiming in as they’re able–today, I’m pleased to be joined by Mr. Joshua McDonald. So what are we waiting for? Let’s go!
Superman: Rebirth #1
Brian: Readers hoping for a lot of story might be disappointed, but given Rebirth’s emphasis on legacy, Superman: Rebirth #1 serves as a helpful (re)introduction to the pre-Flashpoint Superman. Doug Mahnke’s gorgeous visual tributes to Death of Superman make that classic story feel fresh again. If you’re a well-read fan, there isn’t much new information in this book, but the gorgeous visuals are worth the cover price all on their own.
Josh: After the “Final Days of Superman” story went out with a whimper, I was curious to see how they transitioned the pre-Flashpoint Superman into taking the mantle. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Instead, we get a mediocre “adventure” of Superman and Lana Lang trying to resurrect the New 52 Superman… I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I doubt the majority want the New 52 Superman to come back. Let’s stick with the more developed, and more interesting pre-Flashpoint Supes. While I would rate this issue as “decent,” it was a nice reminder/trip down memory lane for both Supermen. If there’s one thing I can praise about this book, it’s that it’s clear that there’s a lot of heart, and the theme of family will be this Superman’s winning ticket.
Action Comics #957
Brian: Picking up some plot lines from Justice League and “The Final Days of Superman”, Action Comics #957 sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting story with some compelling mysteries. Dan Jurgens at times struggles with internal and internal-to-Superman-books consistency, but overall, he and artist Patrick Zircher have created an exciting start that leaves me wanting more. I’m particularly anxious to see how a very classic-looking Doomsday has found his way into the New 52 universe. I suspect the answer to that lies somewhere in the timestream monkey business discussed in DC Universe Rebirth #1. The biggest letdown for me is that it looks like we’ll never get to see the completion of Lex Luthor’s character arc from Justice League, but I suppose a villainous Luthor sells more comics than a reformed one.
Josh: This issue felt more in-tune with what I expected from the Rebirth one-shot. There are quite a few reveals, but I’ll let you read the book and discover them for yourself. I will admit, one of the reveals left me scratching my head – an equal combination of intrigued curiosity and a feeling of “why are you making this book even more convoluted?” The idea is meant to create some mystery to help drive the plot, but I’m honestly not sure I want this mystery. At this point, I mainly just want to focus on the new Superman as he acclimates himself to his new role in this world; not to mention Luthor’s new role. If there’s anything I could do without though, it would be Doomsday. Nothing feels more “been there, done that” for Superman than Doomsday… Despite my callouts, this is still a solid debut. Not great, but good.
Aquaman: Rebirth #1
Brian: As someone who hasn’t read much Aquaman, I’m not getting the sense of redundancy that seems to be bothering a number of other folks who’ve read this book. Instead, I found myself intrigued by the eloquent narration, entertained by the self-aware jabs at Aquaman, and very excited to see what happens after the final-page reveal. Much like in Superman: Rebirth #1, there isn’t much plot, but the dialogue between Arthur and Mera is expertly-crafted by Abnett, and I ended up enjoying this one quite a bit.
Josh: Aquaman: Rebirth #1 is easily my least favorite Rebirth issue. The only aspect I find remotely enjoyable here, is Mera. Every aspect of this issue feels recycled, rather than a welcomed return to themes and characters we love. Even within the issue itself, the same points are beaten over our head two or three times… I get it, Abnett! I get it! People don’t like Aquaman. I get it! He’s misunderstood. I get it! He doesn’t completely belong in either world! Oh crap, here you go again with the same thing… Guess what? I get it! Stop trying to convince me that Aquaman is cool or underrated, and just give me a good, engaging story. That will make him cool.
The Flash: Rebirth #1
Brian: If you were expecting a lot of things to happen in these Rebirth one-shots, it might be helpful to adjust those expectations now. After reading them all–including this one–it’s clear that the basic formula is to catch up new readers while setting the stage for what’s to come. The Flash follows that formula, but it also benefits from having the most natural tie-in to DC Universe Rebirth #1, and writer Joshua Williamson takes full advantage, giving us some alternate perspective on the events of that book, while also promising to dig into the universe-wide mystery in the future. This is all rendered quite well by Carmine DiGiandomenico and Ivan Plascencia, though there are times I find the former’s messy aesthetic a little distracting.
Josh: I wish The Flash: Rebirth #1 would’ve been in the first wave of Rebirth titles, simply because it is the most connected to Geoff Johns’ DC Universe Rebirth, more than any other issue. There isn’t much in the way of plot here, and there’s hardly any set-up as to what we can expect going forward, but it does serve as a nice reminder of the amazing potential that was promised… That alone warms me to this issue. On top of that, there’s a wonderful moment between Barry and his dad, and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing!
Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1
Brian: I’m a sucker for engaging narration, which is probably why I overlooked a lot of the problems in the final two years of Scott Snyder’s Batman run. Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 begins and ends with an excellent voiceover, which sets up the first arc of the Green Lanterns book–not only the imminent conflict, but also something that appears to have bigger implications for the Corps going forward. I’ve been a huge Simon Baz fan ever since he willed a relative back to life and made me cry, so I’m happy to see him in the spotlight (although it feels odd to lump him in with the true rookie Jessica Cruz). The artwork is quite good throughout, even with split duties between Ed Benes and Ethan Van Sciver, and I’m even more excited to see what Robson Rocha brings to the main title once Green Lanterns #1 comes out in two weeks.
Josh: I’m so glad this book features Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz! These two characters have been teased for so long now that they need a spotlight if DC/Johns expects them to create any lasting impressions. Both characters are respectfully interesting in their own way (Baz more so than Cruz in my opinion), and there’s a lot of potential for this title – figuratively and literally. Since Jessica and Simon are both new to being Green Lanterns, it’ll be fun to watch their development. This issue does dip into the cliché “I’m better than you” bit, which I expected, but will hopefully be short lived. Nothing is perfect here, but you can feel the potential, and that’s enough to keep me interested.
Green Arrow: Rebirth #1
Brian: This book has been getting a whole lot of positive buzz, but I just don’t get it. It’s almost as if folks are reading about the book rather than reading what’s actually inside of it. True, Ollie has his goatee back. True, Ollie is once again more concerned with liberal political and social interests. True, Ollie once again (finally) finds himself in the arms of Dinah Lance. But writer Benjamin Percy abandons any artfulness in getting us to this new-old status quo, instead wielding these elements with a heavy hand and bludgeoning us with them. The artwork is absolutely fantastic, and I’m hoping that Percy can find his way, but I am worried about this book going forward.
Josh: On paper, Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 is exactly what I wanted because it reunites Oliver and Dinah. Seeing these two together feels right. But sheesh… everything in this issue felt heavy-handed. From the whole “social justice warrior” bit, to Ollie and Dinah’s flirtation, to the melodrama… It wasn’t great… In my opinion, Percy struggled to tell engaging stories during his previous Green Arrow run, but he made up for it with good dialogue. Unfortunately, both the plot and the dialogue were poor here. It pains me to say this, but I’m starting to question how long Green Arrow will be able to hold my attention.
Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1
Brian: This is how it’s done. Far and away the best of the published Rebirth one-shots, Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 skillfully delivers a truckload of expository background information by framing it as an existential crisis. Who is Diana of Themyscira? Where did she come from? How did she get here, and where is she going? Greg Rucka’s narration and monologues are beautifully written, establishing Wonder Woman’s character for new readers and perhaps redeeming her identity for veterans. The most pleasant surprise here is the artistic team of Liam Sharp and Laura Martin. In their hands, and in part thanks to the new design, Diana is fierce, beautiful, and positively other–a formidable stranger in the world of men. I absolutely cannot wait to see what this team comes up with in the weeks and months to come.
Josh: Yes! This is easily the best Rebirth one-shot in my opinion! Rucka is a legend! Why? Because he’s a damn good writer! More than any other title, this book feels like a solid transition and set-up for what’s to come! While some of these issues have felt like an afterthought, Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 reads as a well-planned prologue to the two stories that Rucka has lined up! All-around, this issue is a complete win!
Well, that’s all for this edition of Break from the Bat. I hope our Rebirth roundup was helpful. As always, hit us up in the comments to talk about these books or other ones that you’re reading lately, and check out Break from the Bat next month for more on Rebirth and more.