- Booster Gold #21, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
- Fables #85, by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, Andrew Pepoy & Dan Green (DC/Vertigo)
- The Flash: Rebirth #3 of 5, by Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Scyver (DC)
- JSA vs. Kobra #1 of 6, by Eric S. Trautmann, Don Kramer & Michael Babinski (DC)
- The Unwritten #2, by Mike Carey & Peter Gross (DC/Vertigo)
- Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel TPB, by Kevin Grevioux, Mat Broome, Roberto Castro, Sean Parsons, Álvaro López & Lorenzo Ruggiano (Marvel)
- The Unknown #2 of 4, by Mark Waid & Minck Oosterveer (Boom)
- Unthinkable #2 of 5, by Mark Sable & Julian Totino Tedesco (Boom)
- B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #3, by John Arcudi & Karl Moline (Dark Horse)
- The Life and Times of Savior 28 #3, by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro (IDW)
The Flash: Rebirth gets downright silly in this issue: Barry is the new Black Flash, a sort of reaper of people tied to the Speed Force, which was one of the dumber ideas from the Grant Morrison/Mark Millar fill-in sequence during Mark Waid’s run a decade or so ago. Since Barry’s presence threatens the lives of the other speedsters, he decides to return to the Speed Force (basically committing suicide), but of course as he gets there we find out that an old enemy seems to be mixed up in the proceedings. This is all amazingly trite, seemingly sending this series on the fast track (ha!) to irrelevance.
The issue’s best moment is when it evokes memories of the old “Who’s faster, Superman or the Flash?” races, when Supes tries to stop Flash, saying that he’d won some of their past races. Flash replies, “Those were for charity, Clark”, and takes off faster than Superman can even see.
In a better story, scenes like that would be an “Oh, that’s clever” moment to lighten the drama, but that it’s actually one of the high points is a little depressing. There are some hints that there’s a little more going on here, but only hints, so far. Unfortunately, Rebirth continues to be dogged by the fact that there just wasn’t any good reason to bring Barry back from the dead, especially as Wally has filled his shoes so ably. There wasn’t a real good reason to bring Hal Jordan back as Green Lantern, either, but in that case Johns constructed a clever story explaining why things had gone bad in the first place, and why he could come back and resume his previous role. That sort of explanation is sorely missing here, at least so far.
JSA vs. Kobra is a mini-series pitting the superhero team against an extraordinary terrorist groups that’s been running around the DC Universe for decades, the rationale for the confrontation being that Mr. Terrific is not just a JSAer, he’s also the White King of the government organization Checkmate, which I guess has a history with Kobra. Nonetheless, my impression is that this is one of the least-necessary mini-series of recent years, as Kobra is a group whose day came and went about, oh, thirty years ago. The first issue involves Kobra embarking on several missions which seem to be misdirection to keep the JSA ignorant of what they’re really up to.
The art seems weirdly stiff. Don Kramer’s pencils seem okay, though rather subdued, but I suspect it’s a combination of Michael Babinski’s inks and the weirdly painterly coloring job by Art Lyon that give it a frozen look and feel. There are books their combined style could work with, but a superhero title isn’t it, I think.
The second issue will have to be a big step up, or this is one mini-series I might not even get to the end of.
I missed most of Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel when it came out, so I picked up the paperback this week. The premise is very similar to The Sentry as he was first presented: A silver age Superman-like hero disappears at the height of his career, and today he’s barely remembers, but today’s heroes have to find him when his greatest enemy reappears and no one else can stop him.
The main difference is that the Sentry was mentally disturbed and his enemy was actually a manifestation of the dark side of his mind, while the Blue Marvel is a black man who was asked by President Kennedy to step down once his identity became known. The other difference is the the Sentry’s existence was wiped from everyone’s memory, even though he was friends with practically everyone in the Marvel Universe, while the Blue Marvel operated before today’s heroes came on the scene, so to them he’s a legend, practically a myth.
Both are good series, although overall I think The Sentry was a better series, because his background was more complex and more personally tragic, and his interactions with the other heroes made his story more nuanced. The Blue Marvel has to carry his book on his own, and he’s a little too generic a character to pull it off: A little downtrodden, but also a through-and-through hero who always does the right thing regardless of the circumstances. The indignant reactions of Iron Man and others to how he was treated 45 years ago are very heavy-handed. The book’s heart is in the right place, but it ends up feeling rather lightweight, and the tragic moment during the climax feels unnecessary and disappointing.
It seems that Mat Broome was replaced by Roberto Castro part-way through, and I don’t think Castro’s style works very well following up on Broome’s polished pencils. It’s too bad Broome couldn’t do the whole series.
In a way, Adam is one of the more ambitious superhero books from Marvel in a while, but I don’t think Kevin Grevioux quite got it all to work. It’s an interesting effort, though, and I don’t regret giving it a try.