Creativity is the key this week.
Each and every book, from Scooby-Doo to Teen Titans; Nightwing to Blue Beetle tries something new.
So many changes in one go would be enough to derail a reader or reinvigorate their interest.
I found this week was the latter. I enjoyed each individual issue on its merits and there were very few downsides to scrutinize.
I think my recurring bug bear is a role call; Scooby-Doo Team-Up managed to do it but Harley Quinn did not, (full stop?) a minor thing but something that could enhance the book for a new reader.
Take off your solar eclipse specs folks it is time to see the light… this is my look into the DC Universe this week!
The Hellblazer #13
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Jesus Merino
John has a lot of explaining to do.
After returning from Paris he meets a man named Marty during a drunken night out.
Marty gives John a bottle of liquor but upon drinking it Constantine begins suffering from the most graphic and violent nightmares.
The only problem is that somehow his violent nightmare came true, resulting in the death of a teenager.
The police want John for the crime, did he commit murder under the influence or was there a supernatural force at work?
I was not a big fan of The Smokeless Fire. It focused so much on Mercury and the Djinn that John took a backseat.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a change of pace in The Inspiration Game with John reluctantly thrown directly into the spotlight.
I wasn’t a fan of the colouring in the book which felt a little washed out, but perhaps it was intentionally done to mirror the dazed hangover Constantine was enduring. The art was highly detailed and the layouts were quite creative. I’ve found that Constantine is a book that has had a fast and ropey rotation of artists. I’m hoping it will find a steady creative team to change that.
The script was engaging and showed how John is interesting, yet deeply flawed. I really enjoyed that this felt like a genuine Constantine story from someone that enjoyed and understood the character.
Nightwing: The New Order #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
After a massacre saw the fall of Metropolis, the world took a different look at superheroes.
In the year 2040, superpowers have been outlawed.
Commander Dick Grayson leads The Crusaders, a government sanctioned team, charged with eliminating the threat of metahumans.
Some metas take inhibitor meds to live amongst us while others form a rebellion but if caught they suffer dire consequences.
Dick and his son, Jake are visited by former butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and struggle to understand the changes in the world around them.
Commander Grayson has kept one secret from the government… the identity of Jake’s mother, but when Jake reveals a startling ‘illness’ could Dick’s life fall apart?
An Elseworlds style story which perhaps would seem more at home with the mighty mutants of the Marvel Universe.
I found myself watching X2 this week so how strange it was to feel pangs of deja vu reading this with Nightwing playing the part of William Stryker, or a reasonable facsimile… I don’t think I’m alone in drawing parallels either.
Another real world element? Tom Welling. Dick Grayson is drawn to look remarkably like him. Given Welling’s distaste for the genre that gave him a career, it is eerily poetic that McCarthy drew Dick to resemble the actor.
I might be reading too much into this story and its roots but it has me interested enough to read it through a few times.
The story was entertaining and definitely different for the Nightwing audience.
I’ll reserve any real opinion till it is a little more fleshed out but I am very curious about it.
Teen Titans #11
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artists: Phil Hester, Khoi Pham & Trevor Scott
Jackson is understandably suspicious of his father, Black Manta, scourge of the seven seas.
Being the biological son of one of mankind’s deadliest enemies forces Aqualad to re-evaluate his choice to be one of mankind’s champions.
The teen is thrown further into turmoil when Manta reveals that Jackson has been using only a minute fraction of his powers.
As the Titans race to save their friend, Manta reveals the true reason he reunited with his son.
One shall rise, one shall fall, but whoever it is will change the Teen Titans forever.
Meanwhile Beast Boy’s future is looking bleak.
This issue was light on story but heavy on drama.
I liked that Jackson struggled with his role and his powers. Manta is as encouraging as he is manipulative so of course I did not buy his ploy of family bonding.
There was a reason why Jackson was kept apart from him but it was a necessary evolution of the character and that scene with Tempest passing on the mantle of Aqualad was very touching. I’m glad that some of the other characters in the Titans roster were given the spotlight, Damian is fun, but in small doses.
I hope Jackson takes on the role of leader, as he is a far more complex character.
Scooby-Doo! Team-Up #29
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Dave Alvarez
Top Cat, Benny, Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Choo Choo and Brain are doing their usual best to outwit Officer Dibble but when they prank the policeman with a fake haunting, they are shocked to find he has called in Mystery Inc!
Hoagy’s ghost is causing all kinds of havoc but it doesn’t take the gang long to suss out the secret.
When real estate developers arrive threatening to bulldoze the land making the poor homeless, it will take all the smarts of Scooby, T.C, Mystery Inc, the cats and even Officer Dibble to save the neighbourhood and the poorer in society.
As a kid, Laff-A-Lympics was a highlight of after-school entertainment.
Seeing T.C and Scooby together on the page was a throwback to those days, but the story was quite out of the ordinary for both parties.
Top Cat was always about comedy and Scooby all about adventure, so to see them try and outsmart one another was very entertaining.
The creative team took it one step further with a team up to save the homeless. Both teams rarely deal with such hard hitting issues and it was great to see it being tackled in a way that would educate children.
Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #27
Writer: Robert Vendetti
Artists: Rafa Sandoval & Jordi Tarragona
Slyggia is the scene of a battleground as the Golem lays waste to everything in sight to get to Orion.
The Metal Golem’s power needs time to recharge but once it does the entire space sector will be obliterated.
Hal, Kyle and Salaak do their best to defend the New God and realise there is only one solution.
Hatching a brutal plan, the heroes make it to Mogo and uncover a race to kill Lightray and Highfather. If New Genesis falls, nothing will stand in the way of Darkseid and Apokolips.
Hal Jordan won’t let a little thing like an army of invulnerable golems stand in his way. The Green Lantern Corps are the only ones that can save the universe now.
Self induced open heart surgery.
There I said it.
I mean it was a serious ‘what the hell’ moment, but one that harkened back to the Silver Age more than it did the N52 excessive violence era. The reason for such a graphic display was to throw a gigantic robot off Orion’s trail, and it was a bizarre deus ex machina that somehow worked.
The real story and motivation for the Golems were relegated to flashbacks in favour of the shock value. The hunt was almost inconsequential, which is a shame as it was the driving force last issue. The race to save Highfather and Lightray will be interesting so I hope we have more character moments and action to look forward to, instead of shock tactics.
Harley Quinn #26
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner
Artist: John Timms
The army of soldiers that interrupted the party turn out to be the ‘Unconquerable 25’ but this was one shindig that they should have left alone.
Harley’s partygoing friends are deadly opponents and they put up one hell of a fight.
As the night ends the Unconquerable 25 are left ‘The Very Conquerable 6’ but nobody is left unscathed.
As Chief Of Police Spoonsdale organises a clean-up crew, Harley & all her friends are regrouped to meet Mr. Rivera and hatch a plan against the corrupt forces of Mayor DePerto and Madison Berkowicz.
Nobody crosses Harley Quinn and her latest plan is her most ambitious yet!
There is really only one story development this issue.
The rest of it is insane action sequence after insane action sequence.
It was all to show that Harley is not to be trifled with and nineteen brutally killed soldiers illustrated that in extremely graphic fashion.
The art is visceral, bloodthirsty, energetic and comedic all at the same time which fits naturally with the plot which feels like a ‘Director’s cut’ of last issue. The revelation on the last page promises for big changes and like Catwoman becoming a gangster, or Lex becoming President, Harley’s creative team will definitely be mixing things up!
Blue Beetle #12
Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M DeMatteis
Artist: Scott Kolins
Ted and Teri are shocked when they find Batman has infiltrated Kord Industries.
Bruce is not happy with Ted and his creation of a new Blue Beetle nor Ted’s twice-weekly Justice League membership requests.
Teri is shocked that this Batman is so different from the one she shows in the year 3001. El Paso meanwhile comes under attack from Ghostfire, and Jaime races into action to fight the villain while being secretly monitored by Bruce.
Inexperienced in combat, Jaime gives it all he has while utilising the tech to discover Ghostfire’s secrets. Though their methods differ greatly, Batman leaves impressed with Jaime’s ingenuity in action.
The surprises do not end there as Teri realises she needs the teenagers help to go back to the future.
After such an overlong origin story and the introduction of The Posse it is a fantastic breath of fresh air to have a new story begin and one that embraces Jaime’s new status quo as a partner to the scarab rather than just its host.
I could have done without Batman but someone must have been watching Spider-man: Homecoming and wanted to reflect the Tony Stark/Spidey relationship. One thing that is positive moving forward is that Blue Beetle is positive and happier and heading in a direction where he might just leave all that angst behind.
Action Comics #986
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Guillem March
As Machinist gloats, Superman and Lex fight to the finish. Superman theorizes that the mind tick was designed for human physiology and encourages Lex to use his armour to its fullest capacity.
Lex takes Superman’s advice as taunting and pours on the energy pushing his suit to its maximum. The suit burns out the mind tick and Superman takes his chance to defeat The Machinist and do something he never could in their past conflicts (as he was depowered) and uncover the tech villain’s secret identity.
As Lex and Superman share a fleeting moment of friendship and honour and admiration, Lex realises he saw something while being controlled. Racing back to Lexcorp he discovers an ‘OZ’ marking recorded by his suit.
Mr. Oz appears and strips Lex of his ‘S’ and reveals some secrets that horrify Lex to his very core.
What I had been expecting was a fight of epic proportions between Lex and Superman.
Indeed, the last issue climax promised me that but what I got was entirely different.
I’m not upset by the fact it turned out to be quite a red herring as we finally got to see The Machinist get his comeuppance.
That would normally be enough, because it forced Superman and Lex to make admissions they’d harboured and work together but then we have the final third of the issue spur things into a new direction. Mr. Oz finally making himself known, taking an active role and taking the story spiraling down the rabbit hole. I love that it was completely unexpected, in an era of spoilers it was great to read something that I was unprepared for.