Our final run of Subway Shorts for the week once again focuses on DC Comics’ two oldest titles, along with the second issue of a new title about classic cartoon characters in an updated setting. After the jump, it’s Action Comics, Detective Comics and The Flintstones!

The Flintstones 2
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh

Flintstones? Meet the Flintstones. They’re a modern Stone Age family. And now, with DC Comics’ new line of Hanna Barbera comics, the Flintstones have been updated for a new generation. But is that a good thing? The results are sketchy right now, because after a very strong debut issue last month, the second issue feels like it experienced a bit of a sophomore slump.

The new comic update puts more of a 21st Century sensibility on the classic property instead of taking the same approach to The Flintstones that have been taken for a half a century. I saw the first issue described as being “more Mad Men than Mad Max,” and I could see how that’s an apt comparison for the debut issue. Fred Flintstone, the war hero, was doing what he could to secure a raise at the quarry, taking a few Neanderthals that Mr. Slate just brought on out to see a good time. The debut established the Flintstones having a pathos that the cartoon never expressed. An insecure Fred, a Wilma with artistic sensibilities. Characterizations that fit but haven’t yet been explored.

But the second go at it went more for satire and comedy than the first issue did, and I’m not sure it landed as well. The Stone Ages discover consumerism, going out and buying “crap” and trying to keep up with the Joneses. There’s also a subplot with the church in Bedrock and how it tries to capitalize on the times and adapt to give congregants a “god” that they will accept after hurting their faith by playing a record.

While Fred continues to show some growth as a character, he comes off more like a Kevin James or Ray Romano TV dad in this issue, which was probably the desired effect, but I’m not sure I liked it.

There’s a lot of potential with this book, and it’s a strong addition to the new Hanna Barbera line, but I hope the impulse is to stick with what worked in the first issue rather than move more towards what was in the second.

Detective Comics 938
Written by James Tynion IV
Pencils by Alvaro Martinez
Inks by Raul Fernandez

Batman needs to be rescued by Batwoman and the small army he’s assembled, consisting of Red Robin (Tim Drake), Spoiler, Orphan (Cassandra Cain) and Clayface. If that’s not enough to intrigue you about James Tynion IV’s first Rebirth Detective Comics arc, well, I don’t know what to tell you.

Of course, the main conflict in the first story arc, “Rise of the Batmen,” has very little to do with Batman. The main conflict is between Batwoman (Kate Kane, who is apparently Bruce Wayne’s cousin now) and her father (Bruce’s uncle), who is leading a Black Ops paramilitary group targeting suspected terrorist threats on domestic soil. The group has been studying Batman for years and have tried to adopt his methods while fighting battles overseas. Now, they want Batman, Batwoman and the rest of the family to join them.

Of course you know, this means war, because outside of the Justice League, the Outsiders and – over on Earth 2 – the Justice Society, Batman has never been much of a joiner.

In this issue, Team Batman stages a rescue and retreat, with Red Robin dueling with the Colony’s resident techie and out-maneuvering him, Orphan taking out a lot of guns with guns and Batwoman and her father having a family discussion, along with some flashbacks to when Batwoman was a kid.

We’re building up to a final altercation between the Colony and the Bat-family, as the para-military group is going after the suspected terrorists with a series of attack drones. I doubt we’ll see much of a change to the status quo with the end of the new story, as the book will be part of the six-issue crossover with the Batman and Nightwing books after this.

Overall, the story has kept me interested, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story gets wrapped up.

Action Comics 961
Written by Dan Jurgens
Pencils by Stephen Segovia
Inks by Art Thibert 

Well, here comes your swerve.

Dan Jurgens’s first arc on the Rebirthed Action Comics has been focusing on a battle between the pre-Flashpoint Superman and the apparent pre-Flashpoint Doomsday, the creature that killed him all those years ago. He’s also weaved in New 52 Lex Luthor’s role as the new “Superman of Metropolis,” Wonder Woman seeing a new version of her ex-boyfriend who is now happily married with a kid to someone else, a Clark Kent with no powers who swears he is not and never was Superman and a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows, observing it all.

In the fifth chapter of “PATH TO DOOM,” Jurgens throws in a reference to the new Superwoman book and we finally seem to advance the story of the mysterious Mr. Oz, who has been watching everything unfold, as he dispatches agents to contain the unstoppable killing machine.

I’m assuming Mr. Oz is Ozymandias, the mastermind hero-turned-villain of Watchmen, which would tie into the DC Rebirth issue that kicked everything off. That would make the most sense, but we’ve been surprised before with these things. Thankfully, we should be getting some more information in two weeks with the next issue. The question then is, will we also get more information about the human Clark Kent that has spent a couple of issues now heckling Luthor and “covering” the Doomsday attack with a surprised Jimmy Olsen? Does that all tie together or is that another mystery for another time?

Jurgens era on Superman was chalk full of storylines that built over the course of a year, hints dropped at random points and left to fester until the writers were ready to address it fully. We’re getting a taste of that again with that first arc, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. My anticipation levels for each issue have been high, and thankfully they’re being released every two weeks.

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