DC’s second month of Rebirth titles was not quite as gripping as the first month. This slow rollout of titles is certainly a better plan than dumping all the new titles out at once like they did with the New 52. This gives smaller titles a chance to catch an audience and DC a chance to see how some things play out before tossing everything out there. Still, for the most part the second month’s worth of books are big titles. Another Green Lantern book, secondary Batman titles like Batgirl and Nightwing, and big gun Justice League. Hellblazer is clearly a title DC has an interesting publishing, and somehow Red Hood keeps coming out even though the only time it was remotely interesting was when Kenneth Rocafort was giving it distinctly styled art. Unfortunately, I did not receive my copy of Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth, so it will have to be included in next month’s post. To make up for it, I have included a write up of New Super-Man, which is not a Rebirth title, but it is a brand new character getting a title all of his own as part of this initiative.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth
Shawna & Julie Benson & Claire Roe
I believe this book is the writing team, Shawna & Julie Benson, first comics work and that shows. The first several pages, which recount the origin of Batgirl and how she came to operate as Oracle, feature narration that is as clumsy as possible. They reach their painful climax with this line “Ironic. A guy named the Joker took away our laughs”. Once those narration boxes fall away and the story gets going things get a lot better. The bulk of the issue is spent introducing Batgirl, but a page or so is spared for Black Canary and Huntress. Batgirl and Black Canary have some nice verbal repartee ad the fight some mobster, quickly establishing both their former camaraderie and some strain on their relationship. That duo is almost always great together. Huntress is the outsider in the group, moving from her place as a super spy – as seen in Grayson – towards her original gimmick of killing mobsters to get revenge for her parent’s death. The motivating factor for the team is that someone is using Batgirls tech and info to take her place as Oracle and she needs to know who it is. Unlike the bulk of last month’s Rebirth titles, this one feels more like the first issue of a new series and not a wheel spinning 0 issue. It is good, not great. That early narration is really bad, but the Benson’s have an ear for dialogue and seem to have a good handle on the characters. This plot doesn’t feel exactly fresh, but as an excuse to get the band back together it works just fine. Claire Roe’s art is strong; not blow you away great, but well-constructed and perfectly suited to the tone of book. While her figures are good, I’m not sure I like the angular faces that she gives the characters. The whole book is like that, it is largely very good, but there are some obvious flaws that keep it from being a slam dunk. Still, this is a title I am interested in reading more of.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Rebirth
Robert Venditti & Ethan Van Sciver
Ethan Van Sciver’s art has always been a good fit for Green Lantern. It is detailed and little stiff; well suited for various alien creatures and locales the pop up in this book. His work here is up to his usual fine quality. The story here … is. It just is. It’s there, and that’s about all I can say for it. It opens with Sinestro lamenting the emptiness of his victory. He is now suddenly old, and with the Green Lantern Corps gone his Sinestro Corps rules the galaxy essentially by default. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan relates his origin and how he came to be on the run. He forges a new Green Lantern Ring. That’s pretty much it. It sets up what could be an interesting book, with Hal Jordan going alone against the Sinestro Corps while trying to find the missing GLC, but there isn’t a lot of meat to this Rebirth issue. The biggest draw of this issue is Van Sciver’s art, which I do not believe will be featured in the series going forward. I assume at some point the rest of the GLC will return, given that they are in the title, and this will become something of a classic GL book while Green Lanterns focuses on the newbies, but right now it looks like Hal versus Sinestro. Again.
Simon Oliver & Moritat
For once, one of these Rebirth issues actually tells a story. John Constantine has never been a character I’ve cared over much for, but this is a fine comic issue. Since the start of the New 52 and Constantine’s reintroduction to the DC Universe, he has been based in America rather than England. This book sends him back home, by giving him a reason to have left in the first place. He was cursed in one of his various dealings with a devil and just now has decided to change things. So he sets out to con a demon. It is a standard Constantine story, but it does a good job of showing the reader who he is and what he does. It is a great introduction to who Constantine is and what he does. It keeps him in the DCU, but removes him somewhat from the bulk of its superheroes. Simon Oliver seems to have a good handle on the character and Moritat’s art is always a delight. This is a solid book.
Justice League Rebirth
Bryan Hitch writes and draws what is essentially a Justice League Mass Effect crossover. A giant, tentacled space monster, called a Reaper, attacks Earth and begins to harvest the population. Its methods and look and message are all reminiscent of the Reapers from Mass Effect. I don’t think it’s that much of a problem; they accomplish what they are meant to do in this one off story, which is to give the Justice League a larger than life foe to fight. Hitch draws the hell out of the book, making it both look realistic and epic. It actually does quite a bit with the plot for such a short issue. Other than the central conflict with the Reaper, which is solved fairly perfunctorily once the league is assembled, it also integrates several new members to a team that by all appearances is just the most classic of JL line ups. It mostly deals with the fact that there is a new Superman around, a Superman that is completely unknown to the other members of the team, and they don’t know how to deal with him. Also there are two new Green Lanterns. By the end of the issue, they are at least accepting of each other as a team. It looks to be attempting to deliver the biggest scale action with just enough character moments to keep things moving along.
Gene Luen Yang & Victor Bogdanovic
This isn’t strictly a Rebirth book, but it is did come out as part of the relaunch so I thought I’d include it. This book is about a Chinese Superman. I picks up after Superman Rebirth, with the New 52 Superman dead and a new one showing up in his place. Kenan Kong is a self-important bully from Shanghai. It opens with him beating up a kid and stealing his lunch. Only as this happens a supervillain attacks. Without thinking, Kenan lobs his soda at the villain, saving the kid he was just bullying. This sets the rest of the issue in motion, as he is interviewed by a news agency, which gets the attention of a secret organization trying to make a Superman for China. The book is doing a lot of interesting things. It is explicity setting up parallels between Kenan Kong and Clark Kent in a lot of superficial ways, like the hard “K” sounds of their names, their connections with people with the initials “L.L.” But he is expressly not the shining tower of virtue that Superman is. There are also parallels to Spider-man, with Kenan being much younger than Superman. But instead of Peter Parker, it is more like Flash Thompson getting the powers. After one issue, it looks like Yang is managing to get the best of both worlds. While Kenan is not a nice kid, he is a great protagonist. The more the book shows his inner life, the more sympathetic he becomes. How he acts is not okay, but there is a reason behind it. He is a teenager going through a tough time. The last thing he probably needs is to be handed superpowers. Or maybe the powers will be the catalyst that allows him to be the good person he could be. This is a pretty great opening issue.
Tim Seely & Yanick Paquette
This is the best Rebirth of the month. Both Tim Seely and Yanick Paquette do some good work here. It is a smooth transition for Dick Grayson from his previous book, the delightful Grayson, back to being a superhero; from being just Grayson the spy back to being Nightwing. Dick gets to hang out with Damian and Bruce, as well as some of the characters from his old book. It grants a brief check in with Huntress, who next appears in Batgirl and Birds of Prey, as well as Midnighter and the new head of Spyral, the spy organization he just left. Dick is an almost inherently delightful character and he gets ample opportunity to bounce off of other fun characters in this issue. Other than introducing Dick and showing what his deal is, which is essentially being a Batman that other people actually like, it also sets up a villainous group for him to deal with. I don’t have a lot to say about this issue, it all just kind of works.
Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth will be included in next month’s Rebirth Round-up, along with the Rebirth titles for Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Suicide Squad, and Deathstroke. Maybe, just maybe, I will include other new titles that didn’t get a dedicated Rebirth issue, like Batgirl and Superwoman. Maybe not; I guess we’ll all find out. While not all the books have been winners, and certainly not all the series coming out of these have been, I am still really satisfied with DC’s Rebirth titles.