Yesterday, I looked at the DC Comics Rebirth books that I found disappointing, so today we’re going in the opposite direction and looking at the books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
Action Comics / Superman
I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed the Superman books as much as I have since the Rebirth kick-off. The stories of the New 52 Superman just never resonated – much like the movie Superman, the writing never depicted him as being anything resembling the Last Son of Krypton that had developed since 1938. But bringing the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the mix has been a stroke of genius that has reinvigorated the franchise.
It’s probably no coincidence that the two books have been focusing on 1990s Superman concepts – The Eradicator in the eponymous book and Doomsday in Action Comics – and that Action Comics is being written by Dan Jurgens, one of the architects of the character’s stories in the 1980s and 1990s. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have been doing a great job on Superman as well, but the end of the Eradicator storyline has petered out somewhat.
Jurgens also has a number of threads running through Action Comics that will keep readers guessing as to what will happen: The mysterious Mr. Oz could be Watchmen’s Ozymandias or he could be someone else entirely and what does he want with Superman? How long can Lex Luthor play the hero? And who IS this powerless Clark Kent running around?
The addition of the new Super-son, Jonathan, gives a new angle for the character to grow, and should be a good hook for the main Superman title as well.
Batman / Detective Comics
Just like the Super-books, the Bat-comics have Batman dealing with two sides of the same concept: dealing with his legacy. And the output so far has been top notch.
The first arc of Batman, written by Tom King, introduced us to new heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, two powerful beings who look to Batman to teach them how to do good. New heroes don’t fair that well in Gotham City, though, and now we’re seeing the fallout of that going forward. Meanwhile, James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics has given Batman a new strike force to train, including Batwoman, Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan (the former Batgirl Cassandra Cain) and former villain Clayface. The team has been battling a military group patterned after the Bat.
Both books have been a welcome change to the lack of Bruce Wayne that dominated the last year or so of the New 52.
The two books are going to be crossing over with Nightwing soon in a six-part story, which should be the first real crossover of the Rebirth era. We’ll see if the quality continues throughout the month-long event.
The fortunate son of the Batman books has been brought back from the dead and is no longer in hiding as a superspy trying to undercut super secret spy organization Spyral from the inside. Now, Dick Grayson is back in his superhero threads and he’s… trying to undercut the super secret Parliament of Owls… from the inside.
Sure, the premise is a bit of a rerun from the New 52 – and the “former Robin going undercover” concept is also being used in Red Hood and the Outlaws – but writer Tim Seely is doing a great job making Nightwing engaging. His interactions with his new “partner,” Raptor, have been more fun than the similar situations in the New 52 Grayson book and bringing Batgirl in as an occasional guest star has helped to ground Nightwing and keep him within the larger Bat-verse.
We’ll see what the aforementioned 6-part crossover with Batman and Detective Comics does for the character, an early team-up in the Rebirth run, but Seely has been doing such a great job that I think Nightwing should be fine going forward.
We’ve got a theme going here with these hits: Batman leads to Nightwing leads to Batgirl. Outside of her appearances in Nightwing, Barbara Gordon has decided to take a trip out of Gotham and into Asia. Of course, wackiness ensues, because it would be a really boring book if it was just a travelogue.
Writer Hope Larson has some big shoes to fill, as the previous Batgirl book was one of the things that rejuvenated the flailing New 52 books, kicking off a number of series that injected a bit of fun and levity into the much grimmer New 52. Babs continues to be a beacon of light and hope for the Bat-books, even if she’s on the other side of the world having her own adventures away from Gotham.
Batgirl also happens to be the lone “once-per-month” book on the hits list, as it is still very early in its run, but it also came through with flying colors right off the (ahem) bat and earned an early entry on to the hit list while other books that are still in issue 2 or 3 are on the “Too Soon To Tell” list (coming later this week!).
I’m enjoying The Flash right now, but I’ll admit, I feel like theres more epic stuff to come from this book than what’s being proffered at the moment. Barry Allen was central to the kick off of Flashpoint and the New 52 and he’s also central to the mystery surrounding the new Rebirth, but DC Comics is not really addressing that in the The Flash book right now. Or anywhere, really (Maybe Action Comics… but we’ll see who Mr. Oz actually is…).
So Barry Allen and Central City are instead dealing with a storm that gave the city’s denizens a connection to the Speed Force. And a new villain named Godspeed is taking that connection and the speed that comes with it.
Yes, Barry has ANOTHER new speed-based villain, or maybe an old one with a new name, it’s not clear yet. Either way, you would think that a new speed demon would be groan-inducing (especially after The Flash TV show’s over-reliance on the trope), but the character work in The Flash has been amazing so far. A lot is happening in every issue and readers get to see both Barry AND The Flash deal with things.
I appreciate the detailed storytelling from writer Josh Williamson, and I hope we continue to get the same amount of beats in each issue, especially once Barry goes back to dealing with the mystery central to Rebirth – who changed the universe’s timeline? That is, if the mystery is addressed in the main Flash book, of course.
Writer Ben Percy gets a lot of credit from me for reintroducing Black Canary into Oliver Queens world, not to mention John Diggle, a character that originated on the CW TV show Arrow. Oliver Queen has a family again in the pages of his own comic book and it gives more than just the titular hero to care about.
I’m not sure how I feel about the Ninth Circle, the organization Percy is using as Queen’s main adversary in the new series, but it’s still early. Maybe once Percy gets past this particular arc, we’ll get some different challenges for Green Arrow and friends to go up against. It’s been a while since Queen went up against villains like Count Vertigo or Merlyn or, well, any of the other villains used on the CW show.
We’ll see where the book goes from here. Green Arrow is probably the weakest of the books on this list, which are all fairly strong reads. But there are glimpses of brilliance in the writing that make me confident that Percy’s run on the book will be a success in the end.