It’s been about 15 weeks since DC Comics released Rebirth – the general close to the 5-year mission of the New 52. So as we’ve just passed the 100 days mark, I thought I would take a look at the line. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be discussing what I’ve enjoyed over the last 100 days and what I haven’t.
I haven’t read all the DC Rebirth books – we’ll get to that in a minute – choosing to pick up what I wanted and read about the characters I’m interested in. I have, however, decided to try and give each book one full storyline to decide whether I would keep it.
Some of these books, that ship twice monthly, get to that point faster than the others. But I have a pretty good idea of whether I continue buying a good chunk of the 20-something books DC has released over the last 15 weeks.
Today, I’ll look at the books that are on my own chopping block – books I picked up but are having trouble holding my interest.
But first, the books I passed up.
No, Thank You
The series I chose not to bother with, either already released or upcoming.
Harley Quinn / Suicide Squad
I grew tired of Harley as a character a long time ago, and her increased popularity has been perplexing to me. I just don’t get the appeal, which means her eponymous title and the Suicide Squad are no buys for me. This is very much an issue of personal preference and has nothing to do with the quality of the book one way or another.
Another character I’ve never been interested in, and the combination of Quinn and Deathstroke is pretty much equals Marvel’s Deadpool at this point. While I’m not reading it now, the upcoming Deathstroke-Teen Titans crossover may change my decision, as Rebirth will apparently be updating the classic story of The Judas Contract.
Aquaman / Cyborg
In my opinion, the two least interesting members of the Justice League. Cyborg’s new book runs the risk of being a rehash of Cyborg’s most recent New 52 book and Aquaman suffers the same fate as another hero we’ll be discussing later, as losing Geoff Johns as a writer means less interesting stories and characters.
Here’s where I lose any and all credibility, I’m sure. I was never a fan of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman during the New 52. There was a lot of ballyhoo over a lack of quality that everyone seemed to go crazy for. So, I hold off on the All-Star Batman book, where he’s on a road trip with Two Face. I’m sure I’ll eventually pick it up as a collected edition, but no one is missing my $2.99 per issue here.
Ready to Be Cut
Five books that I am close to giving up on.
Green Lanterns/Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
Green Lantern has enjoyed more than a decade as a premiere franchise on the back of what Geoff Johns did during his run with the character, but Hal Jordan has been dull and stagnant since Johns moved on to other projects. While the character’s resurgence did a lot of good in creating a new universe for the character, over the last few years the Green Lantern books seem to have done nothing but pit the various color corps that Johns created against each other.
Even the Hal Jordan: Renegade Green Lantern and the GLC’s disappearance toward the end of the New 52 did little to breath new life into the characters. And the two new Rebirth books aren’t helping, either. HJ&tGLC is meant to reestablish the Corps in the DCU as the main space-based peacekeeping force, but so far it’s just another Hal vs. Sinestro battle we’ve seen time and again. And the promise new Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz showed under the pen of Geoff Johns has been reduced to “The Frightened One” and “The Angry One” over in Green Lanterns.
The fact that the opening story arcs for both books seem to be wildly decompressed and stretching things out far longer than they need to go isn’t helping things either.
With recent word that next week’s Green Lanterns 6 – a planned standalone tale – may be postponed until December, with issue 7 still on the schedule for Sept. 21, it could be a bad omen for the new series as it’s the first postponement of the Rebirth era.
Regardless of what happens with the book’s schedule, the Green Lantern franchise books need to do something to improve the standing within the larger DC Universe.
This book might be better suited on the “Too Soon to Tell” list (coming Thursday) because only two issues have been released so far, but I find little to like about the story. Playing off the New 52’s “Final Days of Superman” story, the Chinese government building its own Justice League with Asian analogs of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman – all of whom seem to be teenagers – is off to a slow start. Keenan Kong, the lead character, is completely unlikable and less worthy of wearing an S-Shield than the early versions of Kon-El in the mid-1990s. And that’s saying something significant.
The Chinese versions of Batman and Wonder Woman, introduced in the last issue, are a little better than Superman and may help the book in the long run. There’s still a ways to go for the monthly book to finish its first story arc, so it’s possible things turn around, but it’s not looking so great at the moment.
Another book suffering from the loss of Geoff Johns as a writer and coordinator is the book that should be DC Comics’ flagship. It certainly was during the New 52, and set the direction for the whole universe every year.
But under new writer Bryan Hitch – whose own Justice League of America story in the New 52 was so underwhelming that it ended up being delayed well into the Rebirth era – Justice League feels mundane. Justice League should be a big blockbuster comic. The best runs of the company’s premiere super-team have either been giant long-term epics like Johns’ run and Grant Morrison’s run in the late 1990s or they did their own thing, like Keith Giffen’s JLI in the 1980s.
Of all the disappointments of DC’s Rebirth, this is the most heartbreaking.
I would say that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s New 52 Wonder Woman was the biggest surprise for me in terms of quality and enjoyment. The book ostensibly took Diana out of the DC Universe at large and had her deal with her own family in her own situations. Cliff Chiang’s art was also stunning and the combination was one of the best experiences over the course of the last 5 years. Even Meredith and David Finch’s follow-up was well-done, playing off of what has come before.
Greg Rucka, who was the most prominent Wonder Woman writer of the pre-Flashpoint era, is now back and it seems like his primary objective is to wipe out everything about the most recent incarnation. The result has been a mixed bag. Unlike the other books that are released every other week, Rucka is running two different stories – “The Truth” and “The Lies” in alternating issues. The first is yet another origin story and the second is a modern day tale as Diana tries to figure out why she can’t return to Paradise Island.
Rucka could have easily built off the new dynamic set up in Azzarello’s run, but instead came in and wiped the slate clean to do his own thing, and the two stories have been a bit off-putting for me.
I’ll see how things go as the two story arcs finish (and probably dovetail together) before I pass complete judgment, but so far I am not a fan of what Rucka is doing here.
Only 5 books have been disappointments so far, which is a pretty good batting average for DC. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the books I’ve been enjoying. After that, a look at the newer Rebirth books that are still trying to make an impression and a quick glance at books yet to come.