Reviews by J.T. Johnson
This week, Brian Michael Bendis continues his run on “Action Comics”, Bryan Hill concludes his run on “Detective Comics”, Wonder Woman is still fighting some old gods and the Flash is feeling the squeeze of the Strength Force. Meanwhile, the newest “Teen Titans” take on Gizmo, Wonder Woman also leads the new Justice League Dark in the new book’s sophomore issue and there’s a new “Suicide Squad” team in the first annual since their Rebirth relaunch. I hope you enjoy the reviews as I take a look at these select titles from DC Comics!
ACTION COMICS #1002
“Invisible Mafia” Part 2
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Patrick Gleason
In Bendis’ second issue of “Action Comics”, Clark Kent continues his investigation into the mysterious fires that are spreading across Metropolis. He soon discovers that they are being done in order to distract Superman. Why they are doing this is anyone’s guess, but it could have something to do with the mysterious Red Cloud. This villain was introduced in #1001 as this series’ new big bad and in this one, the Red Cloud takes out the Guardian. The issue also marks a reunion between Superman and Lois Lane (revealed to be back on Earth in the last issue) and it looks like soon we’ll find out why she is back and hopefully where her son Jon is hiding.
The story took a unique turn as it mostly focused on Superman as Clark Kent. Superman is a main suspect in the fires, so it has to be Kent who investigates and tries to find the real story. This was another strong issue from Bendis, but I did have one major gripe with this issue.
Patrick Gleason’s art, which is normally very dependable, didn’t feel right to me in this issue. I don’t know quite how to put it except to say that it felt incomplete somehow. I must also admit that this took me out of the story a couple of times despite Bendis’ dependable writing. The artwork was by no means a dealbreaker, but I do hope it is better in the next issue.
DETECTIVE COMICS #987
“On the Outside” Finale
WRITER: Bryan Hill
PENCILS: Miguel Mendonça
ISSUE OF THE WEEK!
Writer Bryan Hill goes out strong with his brief run on “Detective Comics”. Over the past few issues, Batman has been fighting Karma, a villain with a special mask that allows him to read Batman’s every move and access every one of his memories. It has put Batman off his game, but he thankfully has had the help of a new team consisting of Black Lightning, Batgirl, Orphan, the Signal and (in this issue), Karma.
Just as I was getting used to Hill, he is leaving the title. Thankfully, though, this storyline in “Detective” is a backdoor pilot of sorts. The title of this story, ‘On the Outside’, was a major hint at what is to come. As it turns out, Hill will be the main writer on a new version of “Batman and the Outsiders” that is set to begin this December.
I’m thankful for this because I really ended up enjoying ‘On the Outside’ and this issue finishes on a high note while setting up the new title. It looks like Black Lightning, Karma, the Signal and Orphan aren’t quite out of Batman’s plans just yet. If the new book is only a fraction as good as this story, then it will be a book that is definitely worth reading.
WONDER WOMAN #53
“The Enemy of Both Sides” Part 2
WRITER: Steve Orlando
In “Wonder Woman” #52, everyone’s favorite Amazon, along with Aztek and Artemis, went to an ancient temple and traversed a confusing maze to reach a fallen Amazon who had been trapped there. In this issue, the three unlikely teammates fight the dreaded god on his own turf. The issue is mostly an action packed affair and after the last issue, far less confusing.
The big mystery in this issue was to figure out how to use the Bow of Ra in order to defeat the god. That’s how straightforward this story was as it was simply about trying to figure out how to stop a god. Thankfully, writer Steve Orlando told this simple story competently and it was a fun adventure.
Due to not having to show a confusing maze, ACO’s artwork in this issue was also far more impressive. It hit all the right marks and there were a few splash pages that showed off Wonder Woman in all of her glory. It may not go down as one of the most memorable books ever, but it was definitely a fun ride.
THE FLASH #53
“Grips of Strength” Part 2
WRITER: Joshua Williamson
ARTIST: Christian Duce
The Flash and Commander Cold continue to work together in order to take down the Trickster. The only problem is that the Trickster has been affected by the Strength Force, one of several new forces that the Flash recently discovered. After the Strength Force begins to negatively react to the Trickster’s body, they take him back to Iron Heights to study this seemingly unstable Force.
This issue was action packed as we also learn a little bit more about the newly discovered Strength Force. It also has a pretty decent cliffhanger, though, as it sets up a new confrontation between the Flash and Commander Cold. The problem is that this is not Snart, but a man from the 25th century and we learn that he may also be unhinged and hardened by his experiences in the future. I’ve only recently started reading “The Flash” again, so a brief look into Commander Cold’s past definitely helped establish his character a little bit more since I was unfamiliar with him when I started this story in #52.
In addition the solid story, I really enjoyed Christian Duce’s artwork. It’s sort of reminiscent of the artwork I used to see in the 1990s, except the only overly-exaggerated art here is a Trickster that has been mutated into a behemoth with an asphalt arm. This storyline started strong and it continues to be a highlight of my week when I sit down to read my comics.
TEEN TITANS #21
WRITER: Adam Glass
ARTIST: Bernard Chang
I really enjoyed “Teen Titans” #20 and love this new team that Robin has set up. Other critics keep talking about how the series has taken a dark turn. While there are certain elements such as Robin having a jail of his own that I’m sure will have a bigger impact later on, I actually found this issue to be quite fun as the new team learns to work together.
It is told mostly through the perspective of Roundhouse, a new hero that is known mostly for his videos on Viewtube. It was Kid Flash that brought him onboard and Robin only accepted him so that Kid Flash would join. In this issue, the character is trying to prove himself to the rest of the team.
The story is a ticking time clock story as they are trying to disarm a bomb that has been set by Gizmo, the villain of this particular issue. It is action packed as Crush (Lobo’s daughter) and Roundhouse try to evacuate the store where Gizmo has set up shop. Meanwhile, Robin and Red Arrow are trying to figure out how to disarm the bomb which no one, even Kid Flash, can seem to find. Did I mention that they only have four minutes to figure this all out?
The story by writer Adam Glass is a really fun ride and it was the closest challenger against “Detective Comics” for Issue of the Week. The issue is also backed up by solid artwork from Bernard Chang. I was surprised to see that this issue didn’t do as good in the reviews because I had a total blast (pun intended)!
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2
“The Last Age of Magic” Chapter 2
WRITER: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
While “Justice League Dark” usually deals with the weird and magical, I never really thought that we got there with issue #1 despite the fact that I liked what I had read. In this issue, though, things get serious as Wonder Woman leads this new faction of the Justice League in order to discover who is trying to destroy magic itself. Their quest takes them to the Tower of Fate where even more deadly secrets are primed to be revealed.
The issue starts off with a bang until things slow down so that Wonder Woman and her team can get their bearings. For the rest of the issue, Wonder Woman and Zatanna try to convince Doctor Fate that they need to talk to Nabu, who is the original Lord of Order. Meanwhile, we also learn a secret about Swamp Thing that I’m sure will play an important role in a future issue.
James Tynion IV is still setting up his team, but we’re finally getting into a weird world where a Justice League Dark is necessary!
SUICIDE SQUAD ANNUAL #1
“For the Wicked, No Rest”
WRITER: Cullen Bunn
ARTIST: Ronan Cliquet
In the main “Suicide Squad” book, the main Task Force X is dealing with Atlantis and Aquaman in the ‘Sink Atlantis’ crossover, so for the Squad’s first annual for their latest volume, they’re largely absent. In the book, a terrified woman who is conjoined with a dead man has terrible ghosts chasing after her when she escapes from Belle Reve Prison. Amanda Waller quickly assembles a new team of even more obscure villains to get her back.
The big problem in the main book is that the title is filled with characters that DC wouldn’t dare kill off, including Deadshot and Harley Quinn. In this title, though, it is filled with lesser known villains, so writer Cullen Bunn turns it into a story that shows off the cruelty of Task Force X’s leader, Amanda Waller. She has no problems sacrificing everyone on this new team in order to achieve her goals… and yes, she sets off a bomb in one of the characters’ heads.
My only criticism with this issue is that I don’t care for these characters as much as the main team, so those that did die didn’t really bother me. Also, this book has a “Teen” rating but after seeing some of the violence in this book, I wonder if there is any book that would get a more mature rating. Despite these concerns, though, this was a pretty decent one-shot that also features the Swamp Thing as a guest-star so that’s also an added bonus.