DC’s launched its first issues of Batman and Superman under the Rebirth heading this week, and the results were mixed. Batman #1 has some considerable shoes to fill. Regardless of how you feel about how Scott Snyder’s run on the book ended, he was on it for five years. King does well to not make his introduction to the title too jarring, and Finch gives us an aesthetic that’s not trying to ape Greg Capullo’s work, and stands well enough on its own merit. Where #1 disappoints is in the writing. This story basically shows us Batman doing a lot of pseudo math in order to divert a plane which is about to crash land. Again, the tension builds into an attempt to get us to believe Bruce’s life is in danger, and you all know how I feel about that. Watching DC threaten to kill off its cash cows is starting to feel like seeing that one person who keeps pushing the elevator button harder and harder because they assume that makes it work faster. Bruce’s conversation with Alfred, asking “Is this a good death?” feels hollow, and too sentimental for the character. In the end, it’s all a device to bring in the characters who save the day, Gotham and Gotham Girl, the city’s new saviors. It’s an underwhelming finale that left me feeling like it was all just a long-winded introduction to what was advertised on the cover art. Still, a little awkward dialogue aside, I’m hopeful that the new creative team can deliver a good run. I just look for much better pacing in the future.
Superman #1 spent a little more time grieving for The New 52’s Superman, and celebrating the return of the original version of the character. Brevity helped a bit, as the script gave us a nice monologue in the first few pages, an inspiring image, and kindly moved on with the story. My big problem with the story itself is how very light it was on Superman. This issue focused on little Johnathan, Clark and Lois’ son, and the family’s life in hiding as Clark goes back to filling the role of our world’s Superman. We see Superman Jr. wrestling with his powers, resenting the need to hide, and generally being obnoxious and emo. That’s not why I read Superman comics, and I got enough of that nonsense in Man of Steel. Maybe I’m being too hard on the book, but I’m absolutely fed up with DC trying to shoe-horn a “dark and gritty” take on the character, and using his family to do it doesn’t make it any less tired. I’m hoping the next chapter puts Clark into action, and loses the family docu-drama element.
Star Wars #20 brought us back to the journal of Obi Wan. It picked up where our last visit to Kenobi’s adventures left off, and it gave us the confrontation we were promised. We talk a lot about suspension of disbelief when we talk comics and comics-related-shows/movies, and it’s an essential part of being an audience for those things. The Star Wars books haven’t asked all that much from us, comparatively speaking, but I think they need to tread carefully when involving adolescent Luke, Uncle Owen, and Aunt Beru in the early adventures. Owen and Beru weren’t particularly developed characters in the films, but it was established that Luke led a pretty boring life on a moisture farm. He can only save the day from so many Wookie mercenary attacks before there’s another Star Wars franchise continuity discrepancy. With that gripe aside, it was a satisfying entry for the title, and one that leaves plenty of possibilities for the next leg of the story.
Amazing Spider-man #14 kept things going with Regent. If anything, the problem here was that the story moved too far, or maybe it’s better to say it tried to do too much. Regent took down Miss Marvel in a couple panels, Falcon-Cap with a single panel and not but an “ughf” from Sam Wilson, and reminded me Thor is a woman now by taking her out with a flick of the wrist. There were others mentioned, Hyperion, comes to mind, but that was off screen completely. There’s building up a villain, and there’s gutting a bunch of heroes, and this issue slipped all the way to the latter. With that said, I’m glad to see the story moved along. Stark and Parker/Spidey continued their bickering, and while I can’t say it did anything for me, it didn’t grind the issue to halt. This wasn’t a standout issue, but I wouldn’t call it much of a stumble. Regent is still a reasonably compelling antagonist, and there’s good reason to look forward to where the arc goes with him.