Lazarus Planet continues to elevate underexposed characters to the forefront. The four stories in Next Evolution aims to forge new and captivating adventures for the heroes and villains of the future!
The Vigil: See No Evil
Jason Todd has been onto the Lazarus Resin since its discovery in Task Force Z. Despite taking place in the midst of an event focusing on Lazarus Resin, Red Hood’s place in the tie-in feels oddly extricated from the bigger picture. The Vigil finds Jason one step behind a mysterious crew who take the resin for themselves. Much of the narrative features Red Hood slowly dissecting the attributes of the gang during his investigation. I usually enjoy any opportunity to compare the methods of Batman’s students. Although, there wasn’t anything remotely unique about Todd’s approach. Ultimately, it only amounts to a tease for a future story with a title that makes no sense.
Ram V writes Hood indistinguishable from Batman. Additionally, I’m ashamed to read a “wondering how I got here” intro from any writer at this point. On another note, the artwork isn’t doing it for me either. I can’t shake the feeling that the ink and colors are doing their best to cover up unfinished line art. However, despite the figures and backgrounds looking rushed, I have a clear understanding of what’s happening at all times. The actual design of The Vigil’s members remind me of Max Steel (2000) characters. One of them even resembles The New52 Prankster.
The next story pits Flatline up against Ubu in a Tokyo power station. Readers may remember Ubu as the often expendable right hand of the Al Ghul family. Notably, both Bane and The Heretic have played similar roles. After featuring as a breakout love interest for Damian in Robin, Flatline and Robin are now full on dating. Nika and Damian’s relationship mirrors the mildly gross affair between his grandmother Mother Soul and her mentor Lord Death Man. In fact, most of this issue revolves around how she relates to Damian’s family. Personally, I feel like her character narrowly passes the Bechdel Test. Even though this entire event centers on Damian’s legacy, there was a lot of opportunity to give her a more distinct story.
Laura Braga’s art has a cartoonish but fun vibe to it. Drawing random pagodas in a power station isn’t a very relatable image of Tokyo, but the setting does set an inherently animated tone. The depiction of Ubu makes him seem less intimidating and more “down on his luck.” While not quite a fan of this version, I can’t say that the story doesn’t support that look. The action sequences carry a lightheartedness despite being violent ninja battles on paper. Flatline wears a cape that flatters her overall marauder look. I also noticed her attitude against the odds could characterize her as a Mary Sue. This could turn people off on Nika pretty fast, but could equally help elevate her as a reliable supporting cast member. Lastly, the big reveal once again teases a particularly infuriatingly familiar wrinkle for the Demon’s Head family.
The Abyss of The Dead Eye
After Amanda Waller leaves the DCU in the War For Earth-3, she has apparently begun contacting allies through the astral plane. The Abyss of The Dead Eye follows Waller’s machinations in recruiting Dead Eye for another yet to be announced mission. From what I could gather, this version of Dead Eye is an A.R.G.U.S hitman with metahuman abilities. The plot follows Dead Eye as he informs Waller of his latest brushes with Everyman and the Lazarus Resin over a chess match. Ironically, the chess board could be a not so innocent nod to Waller’s time on Checkmate. The story attempts to balance the heavy conversation between them with an inarguably wacky fight. I mean Everyman turns into a raptor and a Doomsday-like creature at certain phases in the battle.
The fight was a showcase of both character’s unbelievable comic book abilities. However, the clash ends up being the most boring part. When a generic conversation overshadows an actual physical exhibition, there might be a problem. I don’t care about Dead Eye’s convoluted costume, nor can I bother caring about what the Lazarus Resin has done to both of them. The blank astral plane raises a lot of questions that no will ever answer. I just can’t overlook how uninterestingly things come together. If the goal of the story is to softly introduce Dead Eye and his connection to Waller for a future story, then I think we only get a mild sense of who the character is.
Not many characters have survived the New Age Of Heroes into the modern day. At this moment, only Silencer and Sideways have made any progress whatsoever. Upon the eve of the Dawn of DC, Red Canary promises to usher in the age of heroes we’ve expected. Red Canary spends most of her time trying to balance her awesome new career with her time as a student. Although not in the least original (see Spider-Man Homecoming 2017), her struggle is a relatable yet challenging place to start. I will admit they will have to do better than giving her laundry and cracked cellphones to endear us to her. Although, I don’t think the world needs another powerless teenager running into danger.
Using her experience in Dark Crisis to fuel her desire to continue to help people, Sienna goes out often to make a difference even without advanced powers. In place of powers, she teams up with “relatable and grounded” Sideways to help out in an impromptu team-up. Seeing both of them together immediately felt like a worthy story engine capable of carrying a potential spin-off. Art-wise the book feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, so it fit very well. In truth, the dynamic between the ladybug and yellow-green color schemes and the goofy Lazarus Resin creatures gives the book a Doom Patrol vibe. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe it is my soft spot for Sideways, but I want to give Red Canary a chance.
- You have a high tolerance for new characters.
- Following along with Lazarus Planet connected books.
- You need a reminder that comic books can still be fun.
While I can’t stand the fact that Lazarus Planet’s tie-ins only exist to set up things that have little to do with the event, this book is the most fun overall. Red Canary and Elevation do a surprisingly good job at showing cool aspects of the newer wave of DC characters. I genuinely hope to see Flatline, Red Canary, and Sideways again at some point. Maybe they can finally put them in a group or something. On the other hand, the stories for Dead Eye and Red Hood feel like pointless inclusions, despite staying the closest to the event. All in all, nothing in the narrative of this book drives me to recommend this. While some of them are undeniably fun teasers, Next Evolution doesn’t feature any stories that feel necessary or captivating. I’d rather just read the books they’re advertising.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.