As ever, the comic world is firing on all cylinders. This week, a focus on DC is in order, as they absolutely killed it with most of their titles. This is going up a little later than usual though, so my apologies.
Detective Comics #980
“Batmen Eternal Part 5”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Scot Eaton
Inks: Wayne Faucher
Colors: John Kalisz & Allen Passalaqua
…Was Spoiler ever really family? There’s an entire plot point centered around how she was used by Bruce to make Tim come back and take the Robin mantle up. That was part of why she wasn’t super close to the Bat-Family and was more best friends with Cassandra and training under Barbara.
Setting that aside, this issue is easily one of my favorites in the waning moments of Tynion’s ‘Tec run. I was always certain they would break the band up, but I haven’t really taken to exactly why they’re breaking them up, so the book’s been a harsh read for me while it’s been winding down. But I am absolutely honest enough to admit that the Bryan Q. Miller run on Batgirl with Stephanie under the cowl is easily one of my favorite comics of the 2000s era.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44
“Darkstars Rising Part One: Enemies Closer”
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
It is unspeakably hilarious how just an arc prior Kyle ran headlong into battle against the Kryptonians while being beaten up so badly his ring had to hold him together, and John just ran in there with some space knucks made out of Kryptonite he found in a vault somewhere. And why can’t they make constructs that emulate Kryptonite anyway? Kyle’s ring back in the day couldn’t do exactly that, but it seemed to have the ability to create certain constructs if Kyle knew the specific chemical composition to them. Even if it’s just a matter of some weakened Kryptonite, that would still be more than enough to turn the tides over Zod, Ursa, and their brat.
Also, random sidenote: Having read so many stories with Chris Kent back in the day, it sucks to see Zod’s son turn into some entitled jerk who hangs on his dad’s every word. Chris was such a great kid, but that’s over now. Thanks Barry.
In any case, as the Darkstars’ recruiting picks up across the universe, so does their unique brand of justice. This week, Tomar-Tu heads to Earth and finishes off the criminal who murdered his father once and for all. For whatever reason, Hal didn’t believe that wasn’t literally the first place a guy who decided he was going to start killing criminals would go, so Tomar gets away with it. But in the meantime, John and the others have come up with one last-ditch plan to stop the Darkstars.
It’s a plan that involves drawing on apparently every past villain the group has faced since Venditti’s run on the Green Lanterns began. They visit Zod, contact the Sinestro Corps, Orion of the New Gods (so we’re even going N52) and Hal even tries to retrieve Hector Hammond. This is definitely building towards a proper slobberknocker, and not a bad way to close the book on the Rebirth Era of the Green Lanterns. I do have questions, though: just how stretched is this team that they felt the need to recruit old villains? Is the GLC really just down to a few dozen ace Lanterns and everyone else is dead? When’s the next recruiting drive?
New Super Man & the Justice League of China #23
“Seas of Change Part Four”
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Pencils: Brent Peeples
Inks: Matt Santorelli
The ending of the Seas of Change sees the Dragonson’s storyline come to a close. Ahn Kwang-Jo finally learns how to control his powers just after he nearly drowns North Korea on the word of the spirit speaking in his head, King Munmu. Unfortunately, Kwang-Jo being free doesn’t set well for Chinese-North Korean relations, so the the group devises a way to keep him out of jail while also not forcing a conflict: Kwang-Jo can create water clones of himself, so he just sends it back to North Korea while he remains with the Justice League of China. The end of the book makes it blatant this is definitely going to come back to bite the team in the butt, but for now that’s a good enough way to close the arc up.
Gene Yang is excellent at folding existing DC characters into the mythology while also creating his own, evidenced by how Avery Ho from Joshua Williamson’s Flash fits perfectly in this series, but Dragonson feels natural as well. That’s great, because the longer this book goes, the more eager I am to see the team grow. Currently, the Green Lantern Corps of China appears to be the enemies of the Justice League, but that’s not a bad thing–you could have one break away out of a desire to do the right thing, forcing him to deal with the pain of leaving his comrades behind while working with the League. Meanwhile, although there aren’t many Martians left, they have a habit of adopting culture from whatever area they inhabit the most–who’s to say a Martian hasn’t been on Earth far longer than J’onn, one with a love of Chinese culture?
Of course, all of that is theorizing–the biggest problem is the book doesn’t seem to be solicited anymore, even though it was never properly canceled. It’s pretty unfortunate, since this is easily one of the best new ideas DC’s come up with since Jaime Reyes. And at a time where they’re trying to make the most of the Justice League name, creating all these different teams, you’d think they would find a way to reboot this title and let it keep going.
For now, the last arc seems to be focused on Kenan getting his mentor back after realizing he can tap into the Yin side of himself and turn into essentially a ghost. They’re really differentiating this guy from Super Man now, as his powers are seeming more like magic instead of the (comic book) science of Kal-El. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–if he’s ever going to be more than a trivia mention, they’ll have to establish the differences between the two sooner rather than later.
The Flash #46
“Road to Flash War”
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
In other mentions of the pre-Flashpoint universe, Wally regaining his memories has resulted in him going full Psycho-Pirate; he’s now seeing versions of characters from old continuity. This kind of leans into the rumors that a “reboot” is coming, which I believe won’t be a proper reboot, but rather undoing much of what was done during the N52 era to begin with.
One major question in my head now that Wally’s recovered his memory: How are people just okay with knowing there are whole years of their lives erased? In some cases there are whole people stripped away from your life! At the very least you should be creeped out.
Also, I didn’t think about it until Wally summed his life up here, but it’s amazing how much of a hero he’s managed to be at all. Usually, a person’s powers wind up being more of a curse and they end up going evil. Speaking of: Is that how Flash War starts? Does Wally realize his kids were taken because Barry couldn’t help traveling back in time and undoing something he couldn’t fix? Probably not, though it wouldn’t be altogether illogical as a storyline.
The actual story seems to be Eobard and Hunter Zolomon finally working together. They try to figure a way to teach the Flashes pain–even though Eobard has already killed Barry’s mother and jailed his father and Wally’s missing an entire family–but they can’t agree on how they get the job done. Eventually, Eobard gets fed up with Hunter’s impatience and travels back in time to torment Barry…resulting in his eventual death at the hands of Iris. Finally, Hunter decides he’s tired of teaching Wally and wants to hurt him…but he’s sorely lacking in allies if this story’s going to be called Flash War. Either Eobard’s coming back again somehow, or he’s about to sow a lot of distrust between the Flashes, and I’m not sure which I’d prefer. Eobard’s died so many times, but I also don’t know that I want to see Barry and Wally fighting.
Written By: Dennis Hopeless, Tini Howard
Illustrated By: Serg Acuna, Kendall Goode, Hyeonjin Kim
Colored By: Doug Garbark
I’ll admit it took a while, but this story finally connected with me. It was hard to buy Bayley’s “underdog” story because whether in kayfabe or in real life, Bayley was literally trucking through all her opponents after the other three Horsewomen left NXT. Carmella was a joke, Alexa was a joke, and Nia was far too green to place a title on–she won and became this dominant champion that was on top of the world. Complaining she wasn’t on RAW was valid…but not enough to resonate.
But same as with most stories, all the overpowered hero needed…was a rival. WWE #17 covers Bayley battling the inevitability that was Asuka, a woman who was undefeated her entire time in NXT and on RAW before finally losing at Wrestlemania this past April. In two very good matches she both takes the title from Bayley and vanquishes all hope of getting it back in the rematch. From there, Bayley’s instantly relatable again.
It doesn’t matter if she can stomp her way through the rest of NXT’s locker room as the #2 gal, she’s not even supposed to be there anymore. NXT’s a developmental division–you’re there a few years to figure things out and prepare yourself for the main show. Winning the title is like a ticket out–you’ve achieved all you can, so once you lose you’re automatically “promoted”. But Hopeless brings up the possibility of her being trapped in developmental–that she’s the high school kid who can’t graduate–even though in that analogy she’s got all A’s.
So watching her do everything she can this issue to try and make her way out of NXT and onto the main roster was tense and compelling, and my only problem is they brought her story to an end too quickly. But! They’re about to do a story on *checks notes* Sami and Kevin, so it’s hard to complain when things are about to get so great.
See you in seven.