Everywhere I go comics related (both online and in the real world), Aquaman is ridiculed at every turn, but I always liked the guy. And considering he’s probably one of the top ten superheroes non-readers would name, I thought most folks liked him, but that’s neither here nor there. What is important, is that this series is awesome. Geoff Johns is writing an exciting story for the King of the Seas, and Mera is getting some great face time. The monsters from the deep have attacked the mainlands and unfortunately not a soul knows what to do, including Aquaman. What I loved about this battle was that it showed just how amazing Mera is. While Aquaman is getting beat up left and right, and at one point gets bitten, Mera skillfully bends the seas to her will and beats the fish-freaks back into the abyss.
Upon the conclusion of the fight we move into learning territory, in which Aquaman, Mera, and the readers, find out as much as we can about these invaders from the abyss. Admittedly, I was most interested about Aquaman’s history with Stephen Shin. Why isn’t this man in jail? Who’s going to come for Aquaman’s trident? Not that I’m being bored by this current arc, but I can’t wait for what’s coming. The one thing about this issue that bothered me was how fast of a read it was. It’s not like it was lacking in story development or plot points, but for whatever reason it felt short, which was a total bummer because I was having a great time reading. Ivan Reis’s line work is absolutely wonderful in this issue. He does a fantastic job of capturing the characters’ emotions on their faces, which is just great to read. 4.5/5
With the newest installment in the series, I’m left with mixed feelings on the series altogether. It’s not so much that the story is bad, but it is repetitive. Every issue has some bad guy appear, all drugged up, Batman fights him, wins, and then there’s a cliffhanger ending with the appearance of a new villain. Having appearances by so many villains isn’t a terrible idea, but in this case we’ve yet to discover what is exactly tying all these villains together. It is possible that the villains are all just a matter of happenstance, that it’s all random, but quite frankly I’d rather hope that there is a deeper connection. That being said, this issue still makes for a fun read.
We start off with a beautifully rendered fight, followed by a nice display of Batman’s social skills, throw in a guest appearance, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an action packed issue. The thing about this series, so far, is that it reads almost more like a TV show than a comic book. I don’t know if that’s good or not, but it is very fast paced, heavy on the action, and has minimal character development squeezed in when possible. I’m sure many people will disagree, but I think Finch’s art in this book is better than what we’re getting from Lee on Justice League. Sure, there are parts of this book that aren’t as clean and sharp as others, and while it may not be in the top five beautiful books of the New DC, it still looks fantastic. 3.5/5
While some of the kinks remain, this issue does an excellent job of tapping into the potential of the story. The issue starts off with a look at “the enemy,” or at least the people who are responsible for blowing up the school and making Jason and Ronnie’s life a living hell (in my book, that makes them the enemy). But what is great about this issue, is that it places the tiniest spark of doubt that these folks are the enemy, and that’s what makes this a strong issue. Be it from the tragic story about Helix or the background information on Professor Stein as stated by the Hyenas, these folks are no longer clear cut villains. Honestly, for a brief second, I felt worse for Helix than I did for our two protagonists during their fight. The guy was supposed to be a hero and is now nothing but a glorified slave. My knowledge of Firestorm’s history is pre-Flashpoint, but I am enjoying this new Firestorm quite a bit.
The Jason/Ronnie portion of this book, which had been nauseatingly predictable and more irritatingly annoying, was an altogether better read. While it was made clear that the two will likely never be best friends, especially considering the only way Fury is unleashed is if the two are angry with one another, they aren’t at each other’s throats every second of the issue. In fact, the two work together very effectively. This series hasn’t fixed all of the problems that plagued the first two issues, but has certainly improved itself. The direction of the story is interesting and has the potential of being a series that affects all of the other issues in both positive and detrimental ways. 3.5/5
We’re now three issues in and this series has already done what the previous one couldn’t; it’s made the Flash, or rather Barry Allen, exciting. The issue starts off with a fascinating look at Barry Allen’s use of his powers. Not only does he make use of his new-found ability to mentally tap into the speedforce, but he takes an old power, the ability to vibrate through solid matter, and takes it to a new level by vibrating a whole airplane through the bridge. It’s that kind of manipulation of the Flash’s powers that is really doing a great job of making this book interesting. While there hasn’t been as much interpersonal development, the innovative injection of science fiction into the book has been quite successful.
When the initial terror settles, the blackout has left both cities scrambling to recover. As a result, Barry and Patty are sent into the city to help civilians, on horses. The two make a detour to help out one of Barry’s old friends, Manuel. Previously we had learned Manuel had been tested on and now had many clones. In this issue we get a little bit more information on just how that came to be. When Barry and Patty arrive, they find Manuel, though he is missing both his arms. When the three of hem get caught, Barry attempts to use his ability to tap into the speedforce to fight the army of Manuels, but something goes terribly wrong. Ninety-nine percent of the time you read a comic book you can be sure that the hero isn’t dead and won’t be dying anytime soon. What makes a good script, is that even though you know he’s fine, you want to know how he’ll be fine. Everything between point A, assumed death, to point B, non-death, is what keeps you coming back for more, and this issue does that. It leaves you wondering what went wrong, how this can be overcome, and what will happen afterwards, and that makes it a huge success. 4/5
This book captures the very reason I’ve dropped almost all of the Green Lantern books, and that reason is this: the Guardians of Oa are never held accountable for anything. The problem with having no peers, is that when you screw up there’s no one there to make you feel guilty about it. The one thing I’ve always respected about Superman and Wonder Woman stories, is that even though they’re godlike beings, they’ve always been held accountable for their actions by people they consider peers. Back to the story at hand, Kyle Rayner is on Oa to figure out why all these rings want him. Unfortunately, what he ends up finding is a lobotomized Ganthet and a swarm of tiny blue men that want to study him. Not one to take no for an answer, Kyle decides to accept all the rings, and for a brief moment wields all the rings (except for the Black & White Ring). This does bring up an interesting question with regards to just how much of Blackest Night and Brightest Day has remained in the reboot.
The other Lanterns arrive in time to give Kyle the needed backup, and the mini war of the lights takes place. Unfortunately for team rainbow, the little blue men easily take them all out. Ganthet goes over to Kyle to relieve him of his Lantern duties, only to have the ring refuse Ganthet’s orders. During this moment of confusion, Larfleeze decides to let it be known why his one ring army reigns supreme. This issue was great. Other than the Guardians of Oa’s complete disregard for anyone other than themselves and their seeming ability to reproduce without a female, this series is doing fantastic. There’s a nice balance of action to story progression, and the twists and turns are an exciting addition. 3.5/5
Almost all the “#3” books this week have been the series’ strongest issue, and that continues to be true with this issue. Writing three books often means one book won’t do so well, but I guess Scott Lobdell never got that memo. This issue marks three months of solid storytelling on three different titles – Superboy, Red Hood & the Outlaws, and this one. From the very beginning of this issue we got something that we haven’t had that much of in recent Teen Titans books, and that’s a large dose of fun. From the very first part of this book this issue was light-hearted, jubilant, and exciting. Kid Flash’s escape with Solstice was interesting and thoroughly entertaining. I loved the way Kid Flash’s spread was laid out with numbers to follow him around the pages. It was an innovative way of depicting his powers, and it’s really only something that is possible in comics. The introduction of the new kid, Bunker, was terrific. The kid is funny, he has a great joyful attitude, and he’s interesting; three things that are hard to find in new characters.
What you get in this story is a fun, exciting book. There’s nothing particularly grim and there are no bleak perceptions of the world. Instead, you’ve got teenagers acting like teenagers. There’s a clear level of joyfulness that is glaringly misplaced in most other books. Not only that, but Lobdell is doing a fantastic job writing these characters in terrifically interesting manners. Booth and Rapmund’s line work is the best we’ve seen all series. Coupled with Dalhouse’s colors, this artistic team did a tremendous job of supporting and benefiting the story, creating an overall enjoyable experience for this reader. 4.5/5
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