Two of this month’s books were in the last week, so Batman Beyond and Teen Titans will be in some sort of addendum next month. That leaves only four books to cover, and one of those isn’t even a true Rebirth book. Still, three of the books I’m reviewing are very good. It was a good month.
Blue Beetle Rebirth
Keith Giffen & Scott Kolins.
For the most part, Blue Beetle Rebirth gets back to what made the first Jaime Reyes book so good, with the only big change being adding in his new partnership with Ted Kord. With a character as low profile as Blue Beetle, having two well-loved versions of the character usually splits the fanbase. Jaime is great, but I know a lot of people were slow to embrace him because his origin coincided with the pointless killing off of Ted. Here, DC and Keith Giffen have managed to combine them. Keith Giffen is in his irreverent mold and Scott Kolins continues the strong work he has been doing, most recently in the unfortunately overlooked Justice League 3001.
There are some slow bits. This rebirth issue doesn’t have much for Jaime’s supporting cast to do, but it goes out of its way to have them all appear. There are brief appearances of Jaime’s family, his mother, father and younger sister. Then there is a slightly off banter with his friends Paco and Brenda. Its fine, but it goes on just a little too long. Still, it does the job of establishing the dynamics among the trio. Then it gets to the action, with a new pair of villains, named Rack & Ruin, attacking a coffee shop in order to draw Blue Beetle out and test his abilities. This is where the relationship between Jaime and Ted really shines. Jaime is a reluctant superhero, feeling cursed by the scarab that has attached itself to his back, but Ted is completely gung ho to be in the superhero game, even if he can only do it vicariously through Jaime. Jaime fights the villains, with some help Ted before the two escape.
This is a great set up for the series. There is a lot of space for Ted and Jaime to clash. They have different attitudes about being a hero, Ted comes from a very affluent family while Jaime’s family is working class. Then there are the other plot threads set up in this issue; from the classic teenage superhero troubles of balancing school and heroism, to the revelation that the scarab is magical instead of alien or that Brenda’s Aunt is actually a crime boss. This is a fertile prologue for what should be a great series.
John Semper Jr & Paul Pelletier
Paul Pelletier’s art is good, at least. I don’t want to be harsh, since I believe this is or at least close to John Semper’s first published comics work, but this isn’t a great issue. Pelletier does something that resembles the DC house style, like the poor man’s Ivan Reis. It looks good. Not great, but more than fine in communicating the story. It is also overwritten and not especially engaging.
Nearly the entire issue is Cyborg fighting a rogue AI named Malware. It shrugs off his best attacks and moves quickly through STAR labs, where Cyborg’s father works. The whole thing is being watched and narrated by some unseen figure. After Cyborg is briefly knocked out, he recounts his origin, starting with his parent’s meeting. It is a rather dry recounting, with some truly terrible narration. While it communicates a lot of information about Cyborg’s history, it doesn’t actually give much insight to him as a character. Cyborg is a character that needs a status quo for a solo title, since he has always been a character that’s part of team, not a character with an independent supporting cast or mission. This issue rehashes is origin yet again, but does nothing to solve that other problem.
While it does start a new story for Cyborg, it doesn’t really instill any faith in books ability to flesh out the character. The fact that it seems to going down the “man or robot?” road is especially disappointing. Still, this is less bad and more completely generic. I won’t be continuing, but I could easily see this improve greatly in the coming months.
Written and drawn by Francis Manapul, Trinity is a book that starts DC’s Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. There is a lot to love in this issue. Manapul’s art is, as always, gorgeous. This book is just a delight to look at, sumptuous and luxurious. The story is somewhat weaker. Not bad, just lacking in any urgency. Lois invites Wonder Woman and Batman over to get to know this new to them Superman. They have dinner. That is pretty much the extent of the issue. Again, I can’t stress enough how good this book looks. It does allow Manapul to demonstrate how well he gets the characters. Wonder Woman shows up with a gift; a wild boar she hunted. Batman gripes about having to be there and about how he likes to work alone when accidently blasted by young Jonathan’s heat vision. Superman has an appropriately skeptical of Bruce’s protestations, noting his usual pairing with a Robin or other Bat-related character. It is just a lot of great little character stuff incredibly well drawn. Again, the story lacks urgency or action, but it is still a completely delightful read.
Gotham Academy Second Semester #1
This is not technically a Rebirth book. I can’t figure out why Gotham Academy Second Semester didn’t get the Rebirth banner thrown on it; several other Rebirth books are just continuations of what came before (Batgirl) and the initiative has been such a success that calling this a Rebirth could have done nothing but help its sales. Still, I am going to cover it because it is a new DC book that has come out during this whole Rebirth thing. And because Gotham Academy is great and everyone should read it.
The start of Second Semester has Olive alone at the Academy during the Holiday break, since she has no family to go home to. While her planned dinner with her favorite teacher is cancelled, she ends up meeting a troublesome new student that brings out the worst in her. They cause some havoc at the deserted academy until Olive starts to see the some of the consequences of their actions. It is mostly an issue setting up Olive’s current situation while introducing a new student that is sure to cause problems among the detective squad. Unfortunately, the focus on Olive means that there is little to no space for anyone else, including the books breakout character Maps. Still, Gotham Academy is great and you should read it. And read the first volume. And read the crossover with Lumberjanes.