Some new beginnings as we meet Maxwell Lord, Malcolm Merlyn and Ryan Choi anew, while Midnighter takes on Neron and reach a midpoint in the big versus crossover. Unfortunately this starts the year off with a slightly damp squib as the stories this week don’t hit the heights they usually do.
This is my look into the DC Universe this week!
The Imitation of Life Part 8: Kill Switch
Writer: John Semper Jr.
Artists: Paul Pelletier & Will Conrad
Cover: Will Conrad & Ivan Nunes
Variant: Carlos D’Anda
Xenephon ‘Exxy’ Clark is wanted for questioning in five technology heists in 2016, and on the run from the police. Cyborg hunts him down for a special mission he believes only Exxy can accomplish – break into S.T.A.R. Labs!
The promise of access to cutting edge tech, or prison is an offer Exxy can’t refuse. Using Cyborg’s blueprints they sneak into the air ducts, avoiding the security systems, defenses and traps set up to protect the lab, until they reach the prize… Victor Stone comatose on a gurney.
The Cyborg with Exxy reveals himself to be a holographic version of himself and he needed an expert programmer to reactivate his body. Soon after the evil Silas appears as a hologram himself, but in complete command of the facility. On the run from security misled to believe Cyborg is rogue they track down Cyborgs raw data and destroy it. The final stop is to reactivate and rescue Variant before evil Silas can steal her code and technology.
Unfortunately the duo are cornered in her storage room and evil Silas appears in person now sporting metal tentacles. He promptly uses he extra appendages to capture Exxy and constrict Vic revealing to the real Silas that he is really a former creation known as O.T.A.C.
To Be Continued…
The art looks great, showcasing Exxy rather than Vic for a change gives the art a unique spin this issue. I hope the superhacker sticks around as he was instantly likeable.
The peril that Vic and Exxy are in is really evident here with evil Silas watching them like some all seeing spectre.
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
I might be the only one but Imitation of Life is starting to grate a little. I hope after eight chapters the end is in sight. I am really enjoying the stories and this issue with a holographic Vic was a pretty clever twist. I just think as a long form story arc it doesn’t seem to be working. As smaller stories it is far more powerful. I hope with the end of O.T.A.C., who even after the reveal is still a mystery, that we can all move on and Cyborg can begin to live a little.
GREEN ARROW #14
Emerald Outlaw Part 3
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artists: Eleonora Carlini, Carlos Rodriguez & Gus Vazquez
Cover: W. Scott Forbes
Variant: Neal Adams & Dave McCaig
Ollie spots the real killer attempting to make an escape and is quickly in pursuit despite the angry crowds mourning Cy Sampson. Black Canary meanwhile is racing to the scene to assist while they try to deduce the killers identity.
Ollie is shocked to be confronted by another Dark Archer who takes out everyone in his path until the chase reaches the stadium rooftop. The archer removes his hood and reveals himself to be none other than Malcolm Merlyn, the original Dark Archer.
The two archers fight and Canary distracts them with a sonic scream as she brings the police with her. To ensure his escape Merlyn fires an arrow directly at the heart of the police chief, but Ollie jumps into its path to protect him and as they watch helplessly, Malcolm Merlyn escapes via a passing airship.
To Be Continued…
The action was there and to be honest it was the only saving grace. The action sequences refused to give up the momentum even if the storyline did.
Not sure about the rebirth version of Merlyn, I felt like handing him a comb…
Still I like the fight sequences they really lifted the script.
This is spectacular.
If there is one place this issue really excelled… it was surely here with this fantastically illustrated cover.
ISSUE RATING: 3/5
The build up of the last two issues was pretty tense and after everything, the killings, the frame ups, the rich potential of suspects and the ramifications of the outlaw aspect to the story, all we get is Malcolm Merlyn?
I’m really gutted. The potential for so much was there.
It just feels wasted.
MIDNIGHTER & APOLLO #4 (of 6)
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Cover: ACO & Romulo Fajardo Jr.
In Castle Epicaricacius, Hell, Neron continues to mentally toy with Apollo.
While at the same time Mawzir is attempting to block Midnighter from his goal.
With the gun broken, Mawzir is unkillable, besides a single enchanted gold bullet.
Midnighter shows why he his both the world’s deadliest fighter and most determined lover. Using the bullet alone as his weapon he dodges an onslaught of blows and gunfire to pierce Mawzir’s skull.
Neron meanwhile teases Apollo into using his powers to lay waste to Hell and then reveal it to be an illusion the next. Illustrating to Apollo that he is broken and the property of Neron now. Apollo laughs off Neron’s attempts to break him and explains the terrible journey of life he’d already gone through with people and their prejudice.
When Midnighter arrives Apollo is trapped within a glass jar at the whim of Neron. Midighter is a stumbling, fragile mess but still hungry for the challenge and determined to the core. He offers Neron a deal, a fight to the finish in exchange for Apollo’s soul!
To Be Continued…
It was all about the fight this issue. Midnighter with the physical and Apollo with the mental. For some reason Neron isn’t coming across as a truly deadly foe, not one that cold take on both Apollo and Midnighter at least.
The action was beautifully observed. That headbutt and the set up were worth the cover price alone. I did fist pump as Mawzir finally kicked the bucket.
Another Midnighter-centric cover but considering the bad ass way Mawzir is dispatched, it is warranted. I really liked this, there wasn’t a wole lot of detail but there was attitude in spades. See Batman? Sometimes you can smile and really instill fear in your foe!
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
Mawzir is lame, there I said it. His death was both spectacular and satisfying.
The rest of the issue just felt like a join the dots puzzle. There was nothing in to besides the big fight.
Apollo’s admission of a punishing life and his attempts to take on Neron did not have the strength I know they were meant to.
Granted this was the ‘lull’ where the first three issues built everything up and after this one we have the two part climax so I can’t really fault it. If it continued to build there would be a pay off that was far too fast and without the emotional response this issue granted it.
This is the necessary ‘peak of the rollercoaster’ before all the guns come out blazing (not Mawzir’s) so I’m really keen to see how this progresses.
JUSTICE LEAGUE vs SUICIDE SQUAD #3 of 6
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jesus Merino
Inker: Andy Owens
Cover: Jesus Merino, Amy Owens & Alex Sinclair
Variant: Amanda Conner & Laura Martin
Katana and Rick Flag find the entire staff and security of The Catacombs dead. They retrieve the facility Black Box and race back to Belle Reve Penetentiary to warn Amanda Waller of the impending attack.
Batman is led to a meeting with Waller who reveals though the League is captive in Belle Reve, she hasn’t injected them with the explosives she usually uses on her Task Force as a show of good will.
Batman deduces the capture of the League was an attempt to ensure their audience, not obedience.
Meanwhile the Squad arrives to gloat at the captive League until Superman and Killer Frost ‘thaw’ the mood between the teams and Deadshot interjects that the squad isn’t a team it is a group of survivors.
Elsewhere, the Catacomb escapees along with Maxwell Lord, are searching for something in the South Pacific. A shaman priest holds a secret that Lord wants in order to control a new mystery member of their team. The escapees are annoyed at the detour and the shady dealings around it but Lord promises them the waiting is over and the attack is about to begin.
Batman and Waller assemble both teams for a briefing and shows them the video from the Black Box so they know what they’re up against. As deadly as the team is their leader is one that angers Superman. His dealings with Maxwell Lord on his earth gives him a unique advantage over this deadly foe.
Waller tells them that Maxwell Lord is after a weapon that can ensure world domination for him while as a bonus killing her at the same time. Wonder Woman questions why the team would be hunting Waller and she reveals their secret and their motives instantly become clear.
To Be Continued…
We are at the halfway point in yet another story and can you see the pattern? Yep this is the dull chapter. It is all talk and no action and unfortunately for Merino he literally has nothing to do. All the action is contained on video footage the entire cast spend watching. Yes the story needed expanding, but at the expense of a skilled artist? Merino drew the short straw and I for one am disappointed that there wasn’t more here.
Considering this is the first big Rebirth event, they seem determined to undersell the book with some pretty dull covers. I mean what is so stunning that you MUST read the book than a cover showing the Justice League asleep?
ISSUE RATING: 3/5
Aside from the revelation at the end there was nothing here. There were some mild character banter scenes to move things along but if you want something more grab Justice League #12. Everything that this issue tries to do, it does better and with more gravitas.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #12
Max Lord: Rebirth
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Christian Duce
Cover: Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Flore & Tomeu Morey
Variant: Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn
Amanda Waller is interrogating Max Lord, former director of Checkmate. He and his team had derailed a train under information that Kobra cultists were trying to to rescue the criminals on board. When Amanda begins berating his actions, he retaliates by telling her that he and his team were doing what hers should have. Amanda promptly has him arrested for his insolence.
In custody, Amanda goes through his questionable record and torments him over his parents too. She looks into Checkmates history and Max’s rise to power. The attack on Metropolis by Darkseid however was a stumbling block as Checkmate was passed over for two teams in its place A.R.G.U.S. and the Justice League.
Max turns on Amanda wondering why she is investigating him after so long and to what end. He tricks her into revealing the location of Lobo, Emerald Empress, Doctor Polaris, Rustam, and Johnny Sorrow and under the influence of his powers she does so but when armed guards arrive and also under his influence aid his escape, a terrified Waller realises she has underestimated him as a foe.
To Be Continued in Justice League vs Suicide Squad #1
Everything I said about JUSTICE LEAGUE vs SUICIDE SQUAD #3 can be cut and pasted here but Duce is the baring the brunt this time. I’m not complaining that we have a ‘talkie’ issue, because in this instance it is necessary as aside for pre Rebirth/New 52 readers nobody knows a thing about Maxwell Lord. Still, we could have seen the attack on the train, or the assault on Checkmate Headquarters instead of just alluding to them.
Not allowing Duce the chance to flex his action muscles is an injustice.
Channeling ‘The OA?’ whatever, this cover showcasing Max Lord makes him look menacing and without even a hint of what many an artist resorts to (gritted, grinding teeth) He is oozing evil and not even doing a thing. That’s some skill right there from Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Flore & Tomeu Morey. Just like his power to compel I wanted to read the story inside.
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
Looking at Max Lord, his motivations, his family, his connections, ‘friends’ and colleagues, not to mention the relationship with Amanda Waller. We gain an insight that the big crossover lacks and honestly would not be able to fit into the narrative of the story they are telling. They try this issue, with a few scenes dedicated to the residents of The Catacombs and Lord’s quest.
This issue just does Maxwell justice. If it was possible to sympathise and hate a man in equal measure this issue did it.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE ATOM #1
The Atom: Rebirth
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Marcelo Maiolo
Variant cover: Andy MacDonald & John Rauch
Ryan Choi’s parents drop him off at Ivy University and he promptly moves into the Bartle Hall dormitory meeting his new roommate, Adam Cray. Adam’s the party animal; Ryan, the brainiac.
Professor Palmer quickly notices the quiet boy is very intelligent student and a year later Palmer calls Ryan to his office and reaches out to him, tries to break through his sheltered motives for wanted to be in the scientific field.
When Ryan finally admits his true hopes and dreams Professor Palmer reveals his miniaturising technology and identity as The Atom to the astounded teen.
They begin a collaboration fighting crime while also pushing the boundaries of scientific research until five weeks ago when Ray Palmer vanishes.
When Ryan under duress from the University Dean and concern for his mentor visits the lab he finds a recording from Ray telling him he has discovered the Microverse, but while he is in there someone will have to take on the Atom mantle to bring him back and Ryan is the only one as intelligent as he is and in on the secret of their technology.
So begins the journey of Ryan Choi… The All-New Atom!
To Be Continued in JLA: REBIRTH!
I dig the style. There is an animated hue to the pencil work where the fun of being in the Atom’s world enhances everything, it brings to mind Cave Carson in fact wherein the art fits the script like a glove. The story needs more action to allow the art to grow but as it continues into JLA: Rebirth I’m sure Ryan Choi will enjoy some there. I hope to see more of Andy MacDonald’s work in the future.
Ryan looks kind of goofy in the suit but cool at the same time.
I’m torn, maybe because I empathise with his nerdiness.
ISSUE RATING: 4/5
When Ryan Choi was first introduced as the replacement Atom, I wasn’t a fan. Replacements just never have that magic that the original does, but then again sometimes you get a book like Blue Beetle and that progression works to enhance the mythos while retaining elements of the original to push things forward.
Are there parallels between Jaime Reyes, Ted Kord, Ryan Choi and Ray Palmer? Absolutely. In many ways they are too close. Closer than say Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis for example. Does the dynamic between Ray and Ryan work? Absolutely. Will they in the longterm? I’m not sure but I am keen to find out and that’s strictly on the writing of this issue. I hope Ryan and Ray aren’t buried by being bundled into an ensemble cast but bring on the JLA!