Family issues and teenage angst dominate last night’s reads – completely coincidentally, I promise you – as I continue this week’s comics reviews. In this edition, the New Super-Man and the Justice League of China take on Flying Dragon General’s Freedom Fighters; Velma gets an origin story in Scooby Apocalypse and the kids in Gotham Academy: Second Semester stumble upon a new mystery.
Scooby Apocalypse 6
Written by Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis
Art by Wellinton Alves, Dale Eaglesham, Scott Hanna and Howard Porter
Once again, we interrupt our regularly-scheduled story line to bring you some back story on the new world we’ve been following for the last few months. No, technically, Scooby Apocalypse and the rest of the Hanna Barbera line aren’t part of the DC Comics Rebirth initiative, but the concept is similar: reimagine familiar faces in a new environment. The new environment in Scooby Apocalypse is one where the five main characters are not friends, but instead have been thrown together in an apocalyptic world. And now, they need to figure out what happened to the world and if they can fix it.
We learned early on that Velma was the one who called former serious journalist and current joke Daphne and her lovestruck cameraman Fred to blow the whistle on the secret project Velma’s secret facility was working on. In this issue, we find out what led up to all that from Velma’s perspective.
The nanites that were released to kick off the book’s premise, we learn, were designed by Velma by corrupted by The Four – the heads of the facility – who are also revealed to be Velma’s older brothers. That is information that is not going to sit well with Daphne, who has already been suspicious about Velma’s involvement in what’s happening in the world.
When discussing Wonder Woman yesterday, I noted that for certain characters, back story is unnecessary. But here, Giffen and DeMatteis weave Velma’s history – and this is probably the first time Velma has ever received an origin with this level of detail – right into the heart of what’s happening in a way that seemed more necessary than what Greg Rucka did with The Cheetah in Wonder Woman.
Hopefully, we get similar origin stories for Fred, Daphne and Shaggy – but only when it flows into the story as needed.
New Super-Man 4
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Pencils by Viktor Bogdonovic
Inks by Richard Friend
It’s the shocking last page reveal that should shock… well, no one who has read a book before.
Yeah, here be spoilers.
One of the subthreads in New Super-Man from the beginning is Kenan Kong’s father, who belongs to a group opposed to the actions of the Chinese government. They are, at first, depicted as little more than a discussion group. But it’s hinted that there’s more to his group than what we’ve been told, or what Kenan’s father has told him. The final page of the story reveals that the father of the New Super-Man is, in fact, Flying Dragon General, the leader of the Freedom Fighters, who seek to take down the Chinese Ministry of Self-Reliance, which has created the Justice League of China.
So, we have the set-up for the main conflict in the story, which wasn’t really much of a surprise. What COULD have been a surprise was the introduction of the secret weapon the Freedom Fighters plan to use – the alien invader Starro the Conqueror, or at least a miniature version. But DC Comics spoiled that when it solicited future issues with Starros on the cover.
For all the complaints about the set-up for the future, I think this was one of the better issues of New Super-Man since its debut. Kenan’s interactions with the Bat-Man and Wonder Woman of China felt like banter between people who are becoming friends and partners. Kenan is still a jerk, but at least he’s learning a bit.
If the book manages to continue in this direction, I may be inclined to keep picking it up.
Gotham Academy: Second Semester 2
Written by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kerschl
Pencils by MSASSYK and Adam Archer
Inks by MSASSYK and Sandra Hope
The Detective Club is back at Gotham Academy, which means more mysteries to solve. It doesn’t take long for something to pop up, of course, as a new Witch Club seems to be taking over the school this semester. They recruited Evan, they attacked Kyle and by the end of the issue (spoilers, remember?), Maps is sitting in with them, too. Has Maps turned on her old friends because her best friend, Olive, is spending time with her new roommate? Well, no, that much is clear with this issue, but I assume there will be some speculation next month.
So, what is the Witch Club and what are they doing on campus? I’m looking forward to finding out. Gotham Academy’s writing team has consistently produced a fun book and the second volume is off to a good start. It’s a shame that Gotham Academy: Second Semester isn’t one of DC Comics’ twice-monthly books (it’s not even considered part of Rebirth), because waiting a whole month for the next issue stinks.