Josh: It doesn’t feel like it, but week four of DC’s Rebirth has come since the initial Geoff Johns one shot. Their big guns with bats and S-shields hit once more along with some returning favorites. Anything jumped out at you yet, Pat?
Pat: Superman was far superior to it’s rebirth issue and Action Comics with some great Patrick Gleason art and an interesting look at the family dynamics while Tom King kicked things off with Batman DIRECTING AND LANDING A COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PLANE THROUGH DOWNTOWN GOTHAM CITY WHILE RIDING ON TOP OF IT. In related news, Tom King is fucking incredible.
Josh: Man, that does sound insane. Ok, I want to hear more about Superman and these family dynamics because I feel like that has been hyped up but I haven’t seen any of that yet.
Pat: Perhaps my favorite arc of the New52 was Batman & Robin Born To Kill by Tomasi & Gleason. It was an exploration of the relationship between Damien & Bruce. Superman #1 does something very similar. Now at points, it’s VERY similar to the point that it’s almost too on the nose. But what makes the difference is Superman & his family. I find that endearing. Born To Kill was exploring what was an attempt of a broken man & broken boy trying to fix their broken family. Superman is different, this is a family that is together and loves one another but is living in secret. The dynamics here is a study in contrast between the two, or at least I saw that. But moreover, when you dig deep, every person is their own saga and every family is an expanding universe of those sagas.
Superman #1 focuses on Jonathan Kent which works partially because he’s obstinately a new character and partially because Tomasi & Gleason are really good at writing stories about young boys that understands the complex emotions of adolescence. Not only does Superman #1 explore those themes but it does so about a kid that is almost normal which feels like a rare thing for modern DC. I’m excited to see where they go with this series, it starts off strong here.
Josh: I think one of things that DC needs more of is more youth, in more ways than one. The idea of normal kids inside the DCU is one of the things that drew me to “Gotham Academy” and when they move away from that it tends to bother me. It’s that feeling I have with Jonathan Kent, its cool for Superman to have a son but its very likely that he’s on track to become the new Superboy.
I find it funny that the two stories we’re discussing involve Batman and Superman’s sons, not wards or adopted surrogates, but their actual sons. Do you think that familiar connection gives the stories more clarity and gravitas? Or is it just the talent turning in good work?
Pat: “I find it funny that the two stories we’re discussing involve Batman and Superman’s sons, not wards or adopted surrogates, but their actual sons. Do you think that familiar connection gives the stories more clarity and gravitas? Or is it just the talent turning in good work?”
That’s a really good question that I’ve never thought about before. Giving Batman & Superman teenage sidekicks accomplishes a multitude of different story beats; it gave the reader a character they could relate to, it showed a different level of humanity for the protagonist but at the same time allowed the sidekicks to be at an arms length from the hero so they don’t go crazy because they’re working with their kids. With Batman this has been especially true with the different Robins over the years.
For Tomassi & Gleason, I suppose part of what made Born To Kill so good was how it added another emotional layer to the Batman & Robin dynamic. For Superman I think it just adds another layer to the character altogether. What’s intriguing is how that will translate to the character because already you are seeing contrasts. Superman is defined as a person by his deep empathy, care and love for all living things; it’s the core of his humanity. That person with his superpowers who has a kid with similar powers is a very interesting set up for all the story possibilities and potential emotional moments. Whether it’s executed is another story. Tomassi & Gleason did a great job of it in Born To Kill but failed to match it on any sustained level following that.
Josh: Johns did a similar story years ago called “Last Son”, where he and Lois adopted this kid from the Phantom Zone. Very touching, and you could tell Superman was over the moon about the kid. Superman would actually be a serious contender for “World’s Greatest Dad”.
Ok, switching gears to Batman how was Tom King’s first issue with the caped crusader?
Pat:“Johns did a similar story years ago called “Last Son”, where he and Lois adopted this kid from the Phantom Zone. Very touching, and you could tell Superman was over the moon about the kid”
Yeah with Richard Donner, that’s a personal favorite of mine as well. I was actually confusing Jonathan Kent with the kid from that story the whole time I was reading the issue.
In Tom Kings debut;
A shipment of military grade weapons are stolen. Batman & Gordon are talking about it on the rooftop while one of said stolen weapons shoots a commercial airplane flying over downtown Gotham City. Batman then uses geometry and physics to shoot himself out of his car with rocket powered jet’s at the bottom of the seat in the correct trajectory to catch the plane with his grappling gun. He then swings around the jet applying portable (?!?!?) rocket jet launchers on each wing. He goes to the top of the plane via said grappling gun and then talks Alford through remotely charging said portable rocket jets so that the plane briefly flies on it’s side allowing for the wings to narrowly miss the top of two skyscrapers and land into the bay by Black Gate Prison.
What do you think?
Josh: I wish people had talked about that instead of this new anti-batman named Gotham whose supposed to replace him as the city’s protector. Because of that, I skipped on the issue. For me, (mainstream) Batman is contingent on Snyder and/or Capullo. Anything else I need good word of mouth to try it, but I guess King has got that already. How was the art? It was Janin and Finch right?
Pat: It was just Finch, not the best of the week by any means but pretty good for him. Jordie Bellaire had this Gothic color palette that muted some of the brighter urban colors and helped in accentuating the visual storytelling but for his part, Finch was solid. I’m curious in how they’ll switch back and forth between the two illustrators
Josh: Hopefully evenly and not drastically in response to schedule changes.
So I couldn’t help thinking about this when I saw the panel in FREEZE FRAME, but there’s yellow in Batman’s chest emblem again which I can’t remember seeing recently outside of Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc stories, which Finch illustrated when Bruce Wayne came back to life. The redesign is very economic and simplified, but usually the yellow indicates that Batman is less street based and more fantastical although TAS mixed between both pretty regularly.
That’s my long winded way of asking “Are we seeing a new era for Batman?” Or is it just a new look for the same Batman we’ve seen over the past 5 years?
Pat: Well, the Batman yellow was used by Capullo when Bruce Wayne got his memory back and returned as Batman. As for a new era of Batman, on some level yes or at least in the main title certainly but also in the same way that we saw a new era from Morrison to Snyder. Like that period, we are going from one writer with a very strong voice and style to another that is as strong and very different from the writer prior.
Was all that people talked about the Gotham reveal at the issue’s conclusion? That’s really disappointing, for all that happened to only focus on a plot point that was announced literally as soon as the new creative team was is fucking stupid and if that was going to be a problem, why would you check it out in the first place? Some comics readers are the worst
Josh: I mean, IGN said the issue didn’t do anything new in regards to the rest of the Rebirth issues. They gave it an eight overall though. Comic readers are fickle.
On the subject of old vs new, how was Titans Rebirth?
Pat: “IGN said the issue didn’t do anything new in regards to the rest of the Rebirth issues. They gave it an 8 overall though”
Can I digress and just say that most comics reviews are boring as fuck and useless?
I guess I just did
Titans man, there is almost a real cool idea from the comic that gets kind of ruined with a corny ending. First off, Booths art is really strong on this issue, probably the best I’ve seen from him in quite a while. He goes more for a design that has stylistic similarities to animation or cartoons (which is kind of an artistic similarity from a lot of the Rebirth books if you think about it) as opposed to the neo: realist Jim Lee 90’s style that’s been his default for years at this point.
But Abnett really attempts something unique in that; he’s basically doing this very personal story about the characters memory that’s sort of based around what is his own version of theoretical physics in the DC Universe (any theory about physics in the DC universe can only be theoretical because it does not exist) That part is really cool. The ending almost felt entirely sardonic but in a way I still found really unsatisfying.
Josh: Sardonic is one of my favorite words, so I for sure want to hear more about this story.
Physics in any superhero story is going to be extremely thin, but what I like about DC is they almost make it up entirely because it has to coexist alongside magic, electromagnetic emotional energy and String Theory. All I really heard about this issue was that Wally West was reconnecting with his old friends which sounds really cool, but then I feel like there’s this disconnect with the Titans, the Teen Titans, even the legacy characters that currently exist in the DCU. They’re bringing back Wally West who’s not even the same Wally West that fans begged to return. Trying to bring back the legacies, which rely completely on history which is made over time, in a few short months is not gonna work.
And concerning the Rebirth art resembling animation styles, that’s another mind blowing insight because that Green Lanterns books looks exactly like the 90s X-Men cartoon.
Pat: Green Arrow hues very close to that as well. I’m actually curious if Jim Lee will move towards that stylistically on Suicide Squad.
Josh: I’m not convinced he’ll be drawing Suicide Squad long enough to make an impact. Although hopefully if he did change up his style, it wouldn’t cause delays like his old one.
I’ve really been enjoying Otto Schmidt’s work on Green Arrow for the way it pops. Light or dark, the art looks great and feels retro and modern in its influences.
I wasn’t as wild about the script though. Percy is still trying to make this case that Oliver Queen is this well-meaning but thick headed millionaire, which keeps Black Canary from trusting him entirely, and then both Shado and Emiko attack him in the end. It feels like a very sudden left turn from the beginning of the book, and I think it kind of ruins those characters developments since their introduction. Emiko in particular, as I feel like that’s such a cool character for Ollie to have around.
Pat: The story choices in Green Arrow #1 were strange to me. Unlike it’s Rebirth issue, it was playing heavily off New 52 continuity but in a way that didn’t make a whole lot of sense from what we know about the Emiko character. Granted it’s only one issue and the series debut at that. Still, that was a plot turn that I didn’t expect but I didn’t feel very satisfied with it either.
Josh: Ollie doesn’t have much in the way of supporting cast so 3/5’s of it just turning evil feels like a letdown. Although there could be some parallel to Ollie’s rich lifestyle poisoning him.
Knowing he’s going to give up/lose his fortune again sort of takes some of the suspense away because now I’m looking for it. Which is a problem I’m having with a few of these Rebirth issues is these reveals that kind of spoil storylines that should entice me.
A perfect example of the opposite of that is Green Lanterns, the story of which really threw me a loop in a somewhat better manner because while it also relied and backtracked on continuity, it didn’t feel wholly untrue.
Pat: I did not read Green Lanterns and wanted to ask you about that, how was Sam Humphries first DC comic that he wrote solo?
Josh: I enjoyed it much better than the previous issue. The character interactions felt a little more natural and the story was sort of a nice throwback to older Green Lantern stories where an alien is on Earth and has to be caught. He ties it back to a character from Johns’ run which is to be expected, at this point how can anyone not when writing Green Lantern? While I felt that part was more in line with the Green Lantern cartoon’s continuity than the actual comics, I didn’t mind it because unlike Shado and Emiko’s turn, it didn’t feel all that implausible.
Pat: Yeah, a step down from Ed Bene’s is like ten steps down from Ethan Vac Sciver.
So looking at the week three books overall, are there any running themes between the five different books that we can point out this time around? I’m not sure I noticed anything that stuck out to me in that sense like it did in week one and two.
Josh: I feel like the ones I read, and possibly the Titans issue from what you described, followed that last page villains reveal.
The scales kind of turned around for me, Green Lanterns story improved but the art deteriorated and Percy’s Green Arrow backed away from the momentum he had built from before. Otto Schmidt’s art was awesome, that’s the only carryover I saw. Also, it sounds like Superman improved from the first go around. So maybe creatively speaking, most of the Rebirth issues flipped from our first impressions?
Pat: “So maybe creatively speaking, most of the Rebirth issues flipped from our first impressions?”
I think that’s more of a function on what the Rebirth issues are supposed to accomplish versus the debut issues of the series. Superman, Batman, Green Lanterns & Green Arrow Rebirth were all designed specifically to reintroduce the status quo for the character after everything changed in Rebirth. Each issue did so in their own way and some were more successful then others. Issue #1 of each series is going to serve a different purpose, it’s there to start off whatever the ongoing story is. Tomasi & Gleason’s Superman was much more interesting in that respect then their Rebirth issue of the title that was pretty much pointless. Green Arrow did a great job in Rebirth of re-introducing the character by giving him a fun one shot story but when the debut is introducing an ongoing narrative, it didn’t work as well because it left the story on a cliff hanger to be picked up next week. Tom King just did Tom King things on both Batman Rebirth and Batman #1 so for me, both those issues worked extraordinarily well. It goes back to the larger question of functionality and purpose in writing corporate comics and what being successful at that actually means. Just because Green Arrow worked so well as a one shot, does that mean the same thing in a longer ongoing narrative is going to be as exciting? Now that we’ve seen what the Superman ongoing is actually going to be, does that negate how weak the Rebirth issue was? Is Tom King so next level that functionality doesn’t matter because he has an innate understanding of serialized visual story telling for the superhero genre that nobody has caught up to yet? And if he does but Batman doesn’t sell or create any buzz, is he successful just based on the strength of his writing?
Josh: In order: No, Yes, Maybe, and Yes.
Batman will almost always be a high seller at DC, but I don’t know how much clot King has built up from his relatively short comics career. Compared to others, he’s a baby. A brilliant one, but still a baby. I’m sure DC believes he can match Snyder’s talent and sales numbers, but time will tell. I think he’s well on his way, and based on the campaign to save Omega Men from premature cancelation he has a size able fan base.
Josh: Yep, all true. I think his rise outdoes Soule and Snyder in terms of how fast he moved up and the amount of work he produced.
Although I wasn’t as wild about the Batman Rebirth issue, I can’t deny that is one of the top issues I’ve read since this all started. Of course, his work on “Grayson” still wows me to this day and I’d be hard pressed to name someone else DC should hand the reins to after Snyder.
Back to our overview of this week, the final thing I’ll say about Rebirth so far is that it is still surprising me. It’s not all good, its not all bad, and sometimes that’s talking about the same titles. I’ve yet to read something I think is outright awful, so that’s something.