Since DC Comics kicked off its Rebirth last year, the publisher has put five big events that either crossed over between books or included characters from multiple books. The most recent event, The Lazarus Contract, just wrapped up, but how does it rate over the other events published in the last year?
I think DC Comics has actually been a bit restrained with their big Rebirth events, with only five minor- to medium-sized events over the last 12 months, building on the mysteries laid out during the Rebirth special without giving too much information away.
5. – The Lazarus Contract
Takes place in Deathstroke 19-20, Teen Titans 8, Titans 11 and Teen Titans Annual 1
Building on the return of the original Wally West from… wherever he was during the New 52 era… mercenary Deathstroke decides to use a deal he made with Nightwing years ago to trick the younger Wally West into helping him go back in time to save his son from dying while trying to collect a contract on the original Titans. The plan doesn’t work as simply as Slade Wilson would hope, and divisions between the Titans and the Teen Titans begin to show.
Memorable Moment: Back in the past, a time travelling Damian Wayne “kills” the older Wally West briefly, to severe Slade’s connection to the Speed Force and essentially end the threat. But because it’s Damian Wayne – and nothing that kid does is without a consequence – present day Wally now has a pacemaker!
Overall Thoughts: Very meh. Of the three books involved in the story, I only regularly pick up TITANS, so I was never really invested in the story to begin with, and TEEN TITANS and DEATHSTROKE never gave me reason to change that opinion. Wally having a pacemaker should be an interesting story development to explore, but with him playing a big part in the Rebirth mystery, I somehow doubt that will last long.
4. Justice League vs. Suicide Squad
Takes place in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad 1-6, Suicide Squad 8-10 and Justice League 12-13.
Tying in to Tom King’s Batman arc, the Dark Knight gets a little concerned with Amanda Waller’s Task Force X – the Suicide Squad – and enlists the League to help put a stop to it. The two teams, of course, get into it before a NEW team of superpowered bad guys get involved looking to get revenge on Waller for keeping them imprisoned for so long.
The weekly miniseries set future stories for the Suicide Squad and it also led into a new Justice League of America comic, written by Steve Orlando. The new JLA was brought together by Batman and includes a member of the Squad – Killer Frost – and a member of the uberbaddies – Lobo.
Memorable Moment: The leader of Task Force 0, the revenge squad, is revealed to be Max Lord, and the former JLI Liaison and leader of Checkmate (not to mention killer of Ted Kord), uses his powers of persuasion combined with the Eclipso diamond, to take over the League in a gambit to watch the world burn.
Overall Thoughts: The event brought Max Lord back into the Rebirth fold – which is great, since he should be a line-wide big bad now that Lex Luthor is playing hero – but I can’t bring myself to care about the modern-era Suicide Squad, so half of the results are a little lost on me. Plus, the comic fell back to the “Batman is unstoppable” trope to lead everyone out of danger, which is always a little annoying.
3. – Superman Reborn
Takes place in Action Comics 973-976 and Superman 18-19
One of the mysteries at the start of Rebirth last year was a mysterious Clark Kent in Metropolis, while the pre-Flashpoint Superman started to pick up the slack after the New 52 Superman died. OK, that was a confusing sentence, but writer Dan Jurgens really did make it work. SUPERMAN REBORN was used to clean up the mess a bit, revealing that the mysterious Mr. Kent was actually Fifth Dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk, trying to help Superman in his own way.
Mxy, though, was a little miffed that Superman seemingly forgot about him and didn’t try to save him while Mr. Oz – who had been seen watching over Superman and making cryptic comments about how all was not as it seemed – had Mxy captured to “take him off the board.”
Add in the fact that the pre-Flashpoint Clark and Lois and the New 52 Clark and Lois were actually the same people only split in half (yeah, they laid on the confusing plot devices pretty thick), and SUPERMAN Reborn was fairly eventful. The only disappointment was not really finding any information on Mr. Oz.
Overall Thoughts: An enjoyable series that reset that status quo for the Rebirth Superman and Lois Lane, which means its affects stretch out to the other super-books – Supergirl, Superwoman, Super Sons and New Super-Man – and Mxyzptlk is always a fun villain for Superman. Obviously, though, we’ll be revisiting this later on, likely during the DOOMSDAY CLOCK miniseries kicking off in November.
2. – The Button
Takes place in Batman 21-22 and The Flash 21-22.
The Button brings The Flash and Batman together to investigate the blood-stained smiley face button the duo discovered in the Batcave during the opening DC Rebirth special. Well, they mean to, anyway, before getting distracted by Reverse Flash Eobard Thawne and then thrust into the timestream, where they end up in the Flashpoint Batcave, where they meet Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne.
The four-issue miniseries also gave us hints at things to come with the Legion of Superheroes, as Saturn Girl continues to be imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, and the Justice Society of America, with appearances by Johnny Thunder and Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick.
Batman gets sent well out of his element here, becoming overwhelmed not just by being dragged through the time stream but also the words of his father, telling him to let the Batman die and find happiness. While The Flash needs to deal with the ramifications of Thawne’s death at the hands of … well, whoever it was that “killed” him (SPOILER – it was Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan).
Memorable Moment: Much like he’s been shown to do on The Flash TV show, Jay Garrick comes out of nowhere to save Batman and The Flash from the timestream, but Barry isn’t enough of a tether to keep him tied to their world, unlike what happened with Wally in Rebirth. The Howard Porter art here brought me back to his work on Grant Morrison’s JLA.
Overall Thoughts: The Button is probably the most-highly promoted event on the list and told a story that was both exciting and emotional, and it’s already started to have an effect on the characters involved. But it again really didn’t answer any questions that have been circulating since Rebirth kicked off. In fact, the story probably posed more new questions than it answered. Still, it was a fun read that further sets up November’s DOOMSDAY CLOCK story.
1. – Night of the Monster Men
Takes place in Batman 7-8, Nightwing 5-6 and Detective Comics 941-942
The first big crossover of the DC Rebirth era saw Batman and his team – which he was training with Batwoman in Detective Comics – have to deal with protecting the innocents of Gotham City not just from a huge storm but from cadavers manipulated by Doctor Hugo Strange to turn into giant monsters and attack the city.
The crossover between the two Bat-books and Nightwing came on the heels of Tim Drake’s sacrifice during the first arc of Detective Comics, where he was “taken off the board” by Mr. Oz, much like Mr. Mxyzptlk. But the Bat-crew doesn’t know that, they think he’s died. So Tim’s sacrifice looms large over the story and motivates everyone involved to save as many lives as possible.
Each character is given a chance to shine, as Spoiler, Cassandra Cain and Clayface work to keep the innocents of Gotham safe during the storm and while Batman, Batwoman and Nightwing went head on with Hugo Strange.
Overall Thoughts: Considering that the story crossed between three separate books, the story felt like it kept a consistent tone throughout all six issues, and it gave Batman a kind of problem he doesn’t usually handle on his own while helping to bring his team together after a tragedy. It was an impressive first salvo for Rebirth crossovers and set a strong standard for the big events to come.
With more big events planned through the year – one kicks off this week with DARK DAYS – THE FORGE – how will these five stack up? I can’t wait to find out.
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