Apparently it’s the year of returning characters. Both Marvel and DC seem to be on their classic reintroduction and renumbering methods in order to pull in alienated fans (Marvel a little more egregious than DC) but these last few efforts at reintroducing teams and forgotten heroes / villains on DC’s part, to be fair, has actually been a lot of fun. Characters like Plastic Man, Booster Gold and Hawkman are characters that had a fundamental spot in the pre-New 52 era of DC comics and to see them coming back slowly into the spotlight is a welcomed change to the otherwise safe but stale main line of heroes. Batman / Superman / Wonder Woman and the rest of the league are great characters, I like them all, but they only go so far in entertainment value. DC Universe is massive in scale, and they’re finally showing that again for the first time since 2011. Justice League Dark is another addition to that growing gallery. In the beginning of the New 52, JL Dark had a healthy run unlike some of the other mentioned titles, but it quickly became somewhat bland. While we had some great, well-known characters like Constantine, the New 52 roster was quickly replaced by new and less interesting weirdos of the DC universe. This new JL Dark looks promising, bringing some much needed attention to the dark and mysterious underbelly of the DC Comics world with a roster of fan favorites.
Magic is all out of whack and the entire magic community of the DC Universe is feeling its effects. Zatanna’s magic shows are going all wrong, Constantine is lying low, Swamp Thing is in despair and much of the rest of the magic world has gone into hiding. After the events of No Justice, Wonder Woman is tasked with creating and leading a magic focused department of the Justice League. While WW isn’t exactly the most textbook Magic user on the League, her time on her home island Themyscira and history with the Greek Pantheon provide more experience than any other league member. Still, Wonder Woman doesn’t exactly fit into the Magic side of the world. It’s dark, mysterious and things aren’t quite so black and white as truth and justice. Wonder Woman is a paragon of light, and that alienates her. That, along with the unanswered going-ons with Magic in general makes things a little difficult for Diana. The Magic world isn’t exactly friendly with each other, though with a great evil force descending upon them in the near future, Wonder Woman will have to find a way to band these old allies together again and reform the Justice League Dark
Tynion IV is writing this comic, which is a good and a bad thing. His story writing and his big scale tendencies make for really exciting and intense comic books. But Tynion is most well known for writing big event style comics. Metal, Batman Eternal, Zero Year, etc. So JL Dark quickly feels perhaps too big for its britches. It’s extremely dialogue heavy, and we’re quickly thrown into a storyline that’s world ending in size. It’s a little jarring from what you would expect of Justice League Dark, which usually deals with the shadows and the terrors underneath your bed. I’m not saying the writing is bad, it’s actually quite good, but I’m concerned of the direction this comic is immediately going in, and how much staying power it has if it goes huge from the very beginning. Tynion’s work on Constantine does show that he knows the Magic world of the DC Universe, and his style and finesse with these kind of darker characters shows pretty well in this first issue. Wonder Woman is a great paragon to balance everything out, and I think she’s a really intelligent aspect that will bring an awesome spin on the otherwise bleak comic. Not to say the comic shouldn’t be bleak, it should, that’s what JL: Dark is, but we’re quickly finding a strong balance with WW and I really enjoy it.
Dark has great writing and beautiful art, to be expected, though its story starts out huge with questionable room to grow. Hopefully Tynion can pull through and deliver a team comic with some staying power.
(4.5 / 5)
All good things must come to an end, and Peter Tomasi’s run on Superman was a very, very good thing. Upon the release of New 52, Superman became a very different character. He was young, inexperienced, perhaps a little angsty. It was a massive shift from the type of Superman that had been so recognizable for the back 80 years. Kudos to DC for trying something different, for taking such a staple character and twisting him just enough to really shake things up, but it didn’t work, and for a few years we were left with a Superman that just wasn’t very likable. Nostalgia overtook us. Fans of Superman longed for the truth and justice boyscout to come back to the DC frontline once again. Haters of Superman realized they didn’t care what DC did, and as such, voices were heard. Rebirth Superman was whole again, and Tomasi took everything about that old Superman and ran with it, this time with his young son Jonathan to help him out. It was the most fun I’ve had with a comic book in a really long time, but Tomasi eventually was shifted out, and he moved on to other projects. Brian Michael Bendis, after his departure from Marvel Comics, took over the comic book, and as controversial as he is across the comic book industry, Superman would be his chance to show his skills on the comic page once again.
Superman #1 opens showing the superpowered Kryptonian in all his superhero glory – putting out fires, punching giant dinosaurs, exploring the unknown reaches of space. You know, the typical stuff. After realizing the true history of his planet (something I won’t spoil here), Kal is in a bit of a bind. Could he be doing more? And what is he raising his young superpowered son to be? A hero like him? Being perhaps the most powerful mortal in the entire universe had it benefits, but it came with some difficulties too, and perhaps Kal could provide something more for his son than just his legacy. J’onn J’onzz, a similarly powered being with a similar backstory has an option for Supes. Become the world’s leader. Hell, become the leader of the galaxy. Superman is a good person, a benevolent person. He could bring the people of Earth and others together. Uncountable amounts of needless turmoil would be put to rest. People would rally around him, desperate for change. Kal, for obvious reasons isn’t exactly convinced. Though perhaps on paper it was a good idea. Perhaps he could do more. He half heartedly says he’ll think about it, knowing the idea is pretty sketchy.
This comic is interesting, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it overall. There are some points of contention. The comic borderline feels like it’s trying too hard. It has this very enjoyable 70’s vibe to it. An occasional narration overlord talking to the reader, which harkens back to the classic “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!” style of storytelling, but it skirts the line of being over the top. Luckily, it doesn’t cross it quite yet. The comic is humorous, and not afraid to use Superman’s overpowered nature to its fullest in an enjoyable way, but again, any further and it’ll feel ingenuine. Bendis’ criticisms about thinking he’s a bit more clever than he actually is peeks its head here, but Superman #1 remains lighthearted and entertaining enough to not ruin itself. My expectations after Tomasi are near unreachable, and that’s the unfortunate reality DC is going to have to face with a lot of people who have cherished this short comic book run up until this point. This new team and new series is, after 1 issue only, satisfactory. But the direction Bendis teeters in his writing style for the Man of Steel will make or break this comic book, and that’s a little scary. I’ll always stick with Superman regardless, and I’m excited to see where this comic book goes.
(3.5 / 5)
It’s been a long few years for the age old Hawman. Since his introduction back in the 1940s, it had seemed that the character had a very solid and unbreakable origin and storyline up until the 2011 New 52 reboot of DC comics. Many heroes and villains changed in this reboot, and many seemingly disappeared from the universe completely, waiting to have another story to be told about them, sometimes waiting for years. Hawkman has had a completely unique path to other characters in the comic book universe however. The winged hero reappeared quite quickly in 2011 in an ongoing title called Savage Hawkman, a completely different origin and character from the well known original with Rob Liefeld, most famous for his creation of Deadpool, heading the comic book as writer. However, this new and more disgruntled Hawkman didn’t go over very well with the fan base and at around the same time Liefeld had a falling out with both the DC Editorial team and Scott Snyder, who was writing Batman at the time. Soon after the Hawkman comic book was dead, and fans wondered what would happen with the character.
Fast forward to 2013 where Hawkman would make his second appearance in this rebooted universe as the quiet and violent member of the new JLA comic book, a superteam comprised of less well known but still extremely powerful characters. It was an awesome team in concept, but again the comic book didn’t work for long and eventually JLA would be canceled by DC execs. Hawkman was gone again and this time with no real signs of reappearing any time soon. Fast forward again to 2018 and you have Dark Knights Metal, the major DC event this year headed by Scott Snyder, ohho, flashback to Snyder and Liefeld’s falling out some years back. Snyder took a few liberties and completely retconned everything from the past 7 years of DC Comics regarding Hawkman and completely rewrote the character, ignoring everything Liefeld and the JLA had done with him. He reconstructed Hawkman’s old and familiar origin in his own vision during the major events of his comic and voilà, here we are with Hawkman #1, the welcomed return to familiar after many years.
Carter Hall is an archeologist first and Hawkman second, though his past plagues him. Cursed with infinite reincarnation, Hall struggles to forget the weight of his past lives and struggles to remember the history of them. He is obsessed with the past, uncovering the truths of the universe and keeping it protected from threats others have yet to see. Hawkman #1 focuses on one of the many expeditions Hall undertakes, a journey into a cave system holding hidden secrets of Gorilla Kingdom, an ancient and very mystical civilization holding many secrets Hall’s looking for. When he brings his findings to Madame Xanadu, one of the most powerful sorcerers in the universe, he uncovers an otherworldly threat that he and the heroes of the world may be too late to stop. Cliffhanger abounds.
Hawkman #1 knows what it is and what it’s trying to be: something different than the violent and bloody version that the New 52 tried to be. Hawkman is more about Carter Hall the archeologist than Hawkman the savage, and it’s an awesome read for that reason. The DC comic universe has an unlimited amount of explorable lore and Carter Hall is the perfect person for uncovering and explaining those unanswered questions. Perhaps that’s not exactly what people are expecting, and the comic book wasn’t the most jaw dropping or entertaining read of all time, but I think long time fans of Hawkman are going to enjoy this partial return to form here and perhaps the first true iteration of the character since 2011. All that’s really missing is his arguably more popular partner Hawkgirl, and I suspect that combo isn’t far off into the future.
(4 / 5)
It’s felt like ages since we’ve had a good Justice League comic book, and maybe that’s intentional as this secretive upcoming Justice League reboot has been in the works for who knows how long over at DC Comics. JL has been in a bad spot since Geoff John’s run on the crime fighting team ended sometime after the New 52 reboot where every title had a big name at its writing desk. Since then the comic has felt shallow, unnecessary and inconsequential. But after announcing that Scott Snyder, a man who is rising up to be the new master overlord of DC Comics in due time (I guarantee it) would be not only taking over the Justice League but rebooting it completely to #1 and introducing a new team, all things began to fall into place and make sense. It’s difficult to say whether Justice League was supposed to fall into the disarray that it did, though it’s safe to at least say it purposefully existed in somewhat of a void, being neglected by the higher end comic teams for quite some time until Snyder would eventually take over. This new team feels nostalgic and new all at the same time, introducing and reintroducing members that haven’t been recognized at a League member for years (looking at you Martian Manhunter) and that’s super exciting. This is also the first time that Snyder has really taken on an ongoing potentially lengthy comic book since his 52 issues of Batman. Naturally, I’m pretty excited.
In the wake of the universe shattering events of Dark Nights Metal, the Source Wall has cracked open, and if you don’t know what the Source Wall is, don’t worry, but it’s important, and it being cracked open is a pretty freaking big deal. Events have been set in motion far beyond the control of any Superman or any Darkseid and the universe’s smartest entity is well aware. No Justice begins with Brainiac invading Earth, though our heroes quickly understand he’s there for unpredictable reasons. Destroyer gods are emerging from the wake of the Source Wall’s destruction, and he must rely of the heroes AND villains of Earth in order to safe himself and his people on his home planet. Brainiac arrives to tell the League of their weaknesses and their predictability in their teams. Each team: Titans, Teens, Squads all have existed in their current states too long and only with Brainiacs unlimited computing power can he formulate the perfect combinations of powers to create a force potentially strong enough to save the universe. Amanda Waller however, has something to say about Brainiacs plan, and as she works in the shadows as she does so well, things begin to go awry as she begins to meddle in his affairs.
Scott Snyder is a really ambitious dude, The beginnings and middles of his stories are always extremely exciting and jaw dropping in its intensity and its scale. Snyder often struggles however in his conclusions and his wrap-ups and the complexity and the size of this first issue scares me a bit in that regard. However, this issue was really, really cool and really fun to read. It feels really good to have these neglected characters back in the spotlight and Snyder’s writing carries every page wonderfully as usual. This is a dialogue heavy comic book that feels rewarding and its something Snyder is so good at pulling off. There’s really not much more to say here. This comic was awesome and if you enjoy these big scale, flashy, over-the-top events then No Justice is for you. This only made me more excited than before.
(5 / 5)
When I heard about Plastic Man #1 I was giddy. “Finally, a quality comic book.” Plastic Man is the epitome of comic book ridiculousness and when written properly is by far the most enjoyable character in the DC Comics universe. He’s basically DC’s Deadpool but he doesn’t rely on tropes and obvious, repeated jokes in order to be funny. Plastic Man is ridiculous by design. He’s over the top, quirky, extremely powerful and has the perfect personality to go with his abilities. Plastic Man is the best stretchy powered superhero in history and when you read either his solo comic books or his work on teams (Which I think is even better) like the Terrifics, he really shines as the face of the comic. He’s constantly taking up the entire panel, stretching across the page and getting up into your face, and it’s really something you have to see in order to understand. There’s an unsaid pattern behind how you’re supposed to draw and write this character, and it’s amazing to see that consistency and comprehension from creative team to creative team. Plastic Man is a really awesome character has been left in the shadows for some years now, and it’s time for his big return.
Much of Plastic Man #1 is about reintroducing the character of Patrick O’Brain, Plastic’s real name, and explaining away some of the discrepancies and unanswered questions DC has to fill the holes of when talking about canonical storylines and events of the past. Any comic book reader is used to this kind of thing by now, and when handled correctly is understandable and for the more part ignorable if you’re uninterested in the company being forced to close loose ends and make canon whole. All of that is fine and we do eventually get a storyline going. The JLA has been infiltrated, at least so says Spyral, a respectable spy organization that many will know from Dick Grayson being an agent of for some time. Plastic Man’s abilities are the kind that they need for their mission so they attempt to recruit the now active hero of old on the investigation. It has a bit of an Ace Ventura vibe to it, which is pretty cool as it works quite well for the character. Of course, silliness ensues.
For obvious reasons this comic book doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it knows when to take things slower and be clever rather than just nonsensical. Plastic Man is a very vibrant character but he’s also charming and sly. When he’s Patrick he’s cooler and collected and that balances perfectly with how eccentric Plastic Man is. This character demands good writing to work well, and the creative team so far has done a wonderful job. This series is only 6 issues, and in that time there’s a lot of potential for a great story and a great revitalization of the character. 6 issues is all he needs, and then he can exist with his friends on the Terrifics for all eternity and I’m completely happy. All hail Plastic Man.
(5 / 5)