I missed last week, but the marathon in catching up to DC You titles continues! Almost there! SPOILERS!
It’s interesting, for the first time, this title did a little recap page of the last issue on the first page. It was a montage of events that looked like memories all hovering over Batgirl’s head.
I loved this parallel that this issue made in this scene where it addresses a question I had from the previous issue. Last issue I thought it was weird that Gordon Batman would want to take Batgirl in. In this issue, he tells her, he doesn’t want to, but is being forced to. Here’s the parallel I was talking about; he tells Batgirl that she should lay low cause it’s the only way he can keep her safe. As he is saying this to her, in her head, Barbara is recalls a memory where her father denies her wanting to join the police force cause it’s his job to keep her safe. She suddenly feels the protectiveness of her father, even as Batgirl, and that if keeping her safe was a priority, it would break his heart to know that she was really Batgirl . I really liked that moment!
There was a panel I just didn’t really get. I didn’t get what they were referring to with the line “haven’t even called,..” “always the smartest guy in the room,..” and the large sneaky grin Barbara had on her face. Maybe I missed something, or too thick-headed ha ha. Maybe Frankie is referring to the fact that she did something Barbara would normally take credit for, saying that Barbara normally calls herself the “smartest guy in the room?” But what is Barbara all “hee hee” with that grin for?
Another panel I thought was interesting is where Batgirl and this guy, sorry forget his name, have this flirting moment. I didn’t realize she liked him, and I guess neither did she, and they have this slightly odd moment. Maybe I’m just squeamish, or haven’t paid enough attention to their relationship, but it seemed to come out of nowhere for me.
I like how in this title, they have brought up that Luke Fox now has his own tech company. I guess it makes sense. Was this brought up in another title?
Another panel I kinda thought was weird was the one where Batgirl stops Livewire at the end. 1. why is she shooting a grappling hook down at Livewire when she’s already subdued? Livewire is literally tied to the ground and Batgirl decides to shoot something next to her face? I must be missing something. Also in the same scene she sets off explosives to make Livewire fall into a body of water, which I suppose is supposed to short her out? Ok, maybe that makes a little sense now, but at the time I thought, hey, you already caught her. And then she pulls out this device she got that conveniently absorbed Livewire into itself, effectively capturing her. I did think it was convenient that her techie friend had this device for her to use, and way too easy that it literally just sucks up Livewire. Hmm, am I being too hard?
Looking back now, I’m still not sure about the grappling hook. The only thing that makes sense is that that was the actually explosives to blow the floor. But she happens to land it right next to her head, which doesn’t make too much sense either! Maybe it’s an antennae for the remote she uses to set the explosives off. Ok. And she does this cause she knows Livewire can still use her powers even though she’s tied up. Ok ok. But if she could just use that device at the end to just “Ghost Bust” her into,.. why not just do that after tying her up?
Then at the very end Alysia shows up, which is great! But she does so unannounced which is a little creepy to find someone on your couch first thing in the morning (or atleast I thought it was morning, maybe it isn’t, anyway.) Alysia drops a bomb that she’s getting married, and Barbara is her Maid of Honor! Um, what!? Did we see this coming? Congrats Alysia.
This issue was another just ok issue for me. I didn’t really care for the villain of the week Livewire and it’s execution, but I did like the character moments. Too bad I didn’t get some of them.
I’m really enjoying most of these fresh takes on books for the DC You initiative. This is something Superman needs, being brought down from being a god. Just lowering his powers isn’t good enough, the physical, visual aspect, emotional/psychological, and philosophical and political aspects of it are what’s making this run different. I feel Greg Pak had a really good grasp on it all.
I like the themes and ideas he’s working with. It’s not entirely new for people to begin to relate to what Superman stands for and realize, they are all Superman, meaning we all can strive for that ideal to do the right thing and that we’re in it together.
The only thing I don’t really but is all the hate that comes when people realize Superman has been living a life secretly among them. I mean sure, he’s an alien, but that’s old news. I suppose, like in the real world, people have many different views, and there are those who really would react negatively. I guess when people just thought he was Superman, they believed he stood for this ideal of doing the right thing, but as soon people discovered he was living a lie as Clark, for some, it broke his image as that ideal.
Maybe hate is more realistic than acceptance. Regardless, this way provides more opportunities for stories, drama, tension, etc, even if it’s a little cliche. But everything is, so people try to put a spin on it, or provide a different context, perspective or philosophy. Pak is doing a great job. I see it all coming together. They’ve been setting up this whole Superman is alien and the world is scared of aliens thing as DC’s new focus in the New 52 and answer to Marvel’s mutants, or Inhumans.
It’s interesting just as Johns gave Superman a huge new power, they take it all away and more.
Aaron Kruder is great as usual.
Art: Wow, there are 3 artists on this issue. What’s happening?!
The storyline continues with the Subterraneans trying to steal this Waynetech artificial sun thing. Both Batman Gordon and Superman are caught in the middle as Aquaman is revealed to be an ally of the Subterraneans. The story is ok, nothing great, but not bad either. I think it was nice to bring Arthur in. I liked that
One of my favorite scenes in the book was the one where it continues the theme of Clark being depowered and how that change creates conversations like this one Batman Gordon has with Clark regarding how he now fits into everything now when he no longer is this insanely powerful being. It’s almost as if he had taken being Superman for granted in the past. Doubts and questions arise in the wake of a man who used to know exactly what decisions to make based on who he was. And now, perhaps those decisions should be different, because he is different. He doesn’t know who he is anymore, and must rediscover who he is now.
Near the end of the book, like the last 4+ pages, it was as if it were a different story. The art changed, and the story shifted gears. I suppose it was a sort of prologue. It was interesting to see Clark approach Bruce Wayne, who is now a “new” Bruce Wayne who has forgotten his life as Batman. Apparently he’s now meeting Clark for the first time, though Clark introduces himself as a reporter named Jon Clark. Does Bruce not even recognize him as Clark Kent, the man who was revealed to be Superman? Surely he isn’t out in the dark and the last to know right? So I’m not sure I believe Bruce didn’t realize who he was.
Also, the stinger in the end, indicates that everything with the Subterraneans up to this point was something masterminded by Vandal Savage, who basically declares that he plans to take over the world. Is that his goal? I thought Vandal was beyond that villain trope? Well, if he’s the Vandal I think we know, then there must be more to it.
My favorite thing about this issue was the connection to the Greek Gods and the world of Wonder Woman that Azzarello molded. I liked that we finally learn about his new look and where it came from. Poseidon! Very cool.
The art was a little spotty for me but it wasn’t bad. It’s interesting that it’s both Trevor McCarthy and Jesus Merino. They seemed to blend well.
I really didn’t like Mera’s characterization. I thought it was so wrong. I thought that maybe the scene I’m talking about happened in the past, earlier on their relationship or something. I was glad for the reveal at the end, though I wasn’t really to impressed. Just very familiar. I understand it’s not easy to impress and surprise readers, so I’m not being judgemental, just is what it is. Maybe it could’ve been something else, or someone else?
The story isn’t bad either so far, but I do feel the book needs a little something to bump up it’s value to me. Wether it’s art or an additional element in the storytelling. Here’s something that sometimes works, add an unexpected element, like a new character that you wouldn’t expect, some new supporting cast-member, or change the tone or genre of the book? I suppose they are kinda doing these things. Change in costume, Poseidon, introducing Garth, this other Atlantis, situation with Mera … idk, give me more of this. Break more stuff, more risks!
We’re at the second to last issue now of this story arc. It doesn’t seem to be ramping up for me at all. Ok, they add Superman, and Deathstroke fights him. That sounds very interesting right? Ok, well, I thought the fight was worth mentioning as interesting, but not much else.
Just an observation, and nitpick: There are some panels showing Superman’s hands, like it’s in first person of him flying. They insert a panel like this a couple of times to show him approaching. Now either he is taking a long time to get somewhere OR, the events that take place between those panels happen very quickly. I originally thought he was just taking a really long time. Not a biggie, just a random thought since I had nothing else to add.
By the end we see Lapetus, this Titan God, Deathstroke was hired to kill blast out of the ground out of knowhere with this spear-like weapon, and I get this impression like I missed something. Or will there be a reveal as to what this spear is all about? Cause, he came out of the ground like it’s supposed to be some kind of surprise, or something, with this spear, but I had no idea what it’s deal was. It wasn’t mentioned previously, which might be ok, as a set up for a surprise or something, but I guess the execution just fell flat on me.
I’m not very excited for the last issue of this story arc. I’m ready for the next one. Though considering it’s the last issue of this arc, maybe that’s where all the meat is? I did read somewhere about something gross that happens in that next issue?!
They said Justice League was going to be THE book that will be the the heart and life blood of the DCU. This is THE DC flagship book! Everything in this book effects and shapes the future if the DCU.
In this book we explore the secret history of the Anti-Monitor, his connection to the creation of this universe, the anti-matter universe, and the Anti-Life Equation. Huge stuff going on right?
And how awesome is it that the Justice League are turning into gods (yes they kinda already are in their own way, gods among men).
Darkseid summons The Black Racer, which is basically Death on skis made me think of the Silver Surfer.
Apparently it’s a big deal for him to do so. Apparently an act of desperation.
Then something interesting and revealing.
The Anti-Monitor who created the Mobius Chair says that in order to control Death, he must give it a host, hence The Flash turning into The Black Racer. What did this mean? Does he represent all those forces on the universe who need hosts? Is he somehow have something to do with them all?
And surely the Source Wall and “The” Hand will be bright up too eventually right?
Having said all that, the only danger is the balance between characterization and being an event book. It’s tricky. You want to make sure there is story and not just plot. I think so far, they’re doing ok. I’m glad that they are doing these one-shot tie-ins because I think that’s them addressing that a bit. In the main book, there just isn’t enough room to explore all the characters in relation to everything that’s happening.
When I first starting reading this issue I was a little confused. I thought maybe I had missed an issue because it started with a character I couldn’t remember if they had introduced previously. BUT, I continued to read anyway, cause it was still good, despite being slightly confused. I knew enough to know that somehow, this guy, Agent Wessel was somehow the Martian Manhunter.
As the story progressed, it made sense in that context, and when Mr. Biscuits showed up, I recalled that in the previous issue, they showed that the Martian Manhunter had sacrificed himself to save the planet or something. I had theorized that Mr. Biscuits was actually Martian Manhunter after that incident, and that there have been flashbacks of Martian Manhunter before this incident, which confused me, cause I wasn’t sure if they were flashbacks. Anyhow, this issue totally cleared it up when Mr. Biscuits shows up.
There, by the end,.. we discover BOTH Wessel and Mr. Biscuits IS Martian Manhunter! I love this. I love how not everything is spelled out, but that there’s enough for me to have figured it out, and it wasn’t too convoluted to the point of frustration. I found it all very enjoyable. What a great first three issues! Great stuff guys!
I also loved the inner struggle Agent Wessel had on whether he was a real person, or just something created by Martian Manhunter when he “died.” Part of him reverted to something alien and less than his former self, and another part of him hid behind a facade of a human to stay safe. Awesome that I’m interested in BOTH of these characters who are actually one in the same! This just means for a very interesting duality for Martian Manhunter to have when he becomes whole again. He will then have both his Martian identity and his human alter ego. Great great!
Another observation. I don’t recall if they had ever introduced other “color” Martians, but in this issue, it’s clear, there are Green, White, Red, and maybe even Black Martians, and they also mentioned Red and Black Martian Magic, which kinda made me think of Atrocitus’ Blood Magic. I’m not so sure how I feel about yet another world/universe building tactic using “colors,” but whatever, I’m on for the ride!
I think all of this xenophobic stuff that comes out of this comic is a very very good accompaniment to support this new DC Universe where aliens, such as Superman, are new, and a huge focus on reimagining his place in the DCU. They’ve been trying to set the stage and set up this atmosphere of a DCU that is threatened by aliens, as if they were the new “mutants” since the beginning of the New 52, with very little success. It hadn’t really stuck because the books that were emphasizing it didn’t do gangbusters. Never-the-less, they continue to push that agenda, and it really feels like it’s starting to matter, to me, because of Martian Manhunter! Superman’s own title needs the support of other books such as Martian Manhunter to really give it more weight. I think Martian Manhunter does a better job because he ISN’T Superman, he is a green alien who is a stranger to this world. He did not grow up on Earth in Kansas raised by humans like Clark. He is not “one of us.”
Love love this book