Batman: Rebirth #1 (of 1) — Writers: Scott Snyder and Tom King; Art: Mikel Janin; Colorts: June Chung
Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 (of 1) — Writers: Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries; Art: Ethan Van Sciver and Ed Benes; Colors: Jason Wright
Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 (of 1) — Writer: Benjamin Percy; Art/Colors: Otto Schmidt
Since the first of the DC “Rebirth” issues are hitting the stands this week — including the Big Two, Superman and Batman — let’s begin with those. Superman: Rebirth starts from the death of the New-52 Man of Steel in last week’s Superman finale, and opens with the bearded, married-to-Lois-with-a-kid, Old Man Superman version trying to figure out how to bring him back to life (since, in his universe, he was killed by Doomsday and managed to do just that). It’s a quiet, reflective tale (the only real action is in a couple of flashbacks), but Mahnke’s a good artist for it: he can make even the static Fortress-of-Solitude scenes interesting and clear. As a transition to the new batch of super-titles (besides the new ongoing Superman, with this character, there’s Action Comics, with Lex Luthor trying to be a superhero; Superwoman, with Lois Lane having gained powers from the New-52 Superman’s death; New Super-Man, with a character in China wearing the “S”; and Supergirl, with, well, Supergirl), it’s an effective beginning. Batman: Rebirth has a lot less heavy lifting to do, since it’s not completely remaking its title character; instead, we get a week in Batman’s life, as he battles the Calendar Man (who’s got an interesting new power that shows some of new writer Tom King’s creepy sensibilities), accepts the kid Duke (from We Are Robin) into Wayne Manor as a trainee (but not as a new Robin; as an undefined “something new”), and re-establishes the status quo with cast members like Alfred, Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox. Artist Janin contributes some nice work, especially in a couple of splash pages; he has an interesting panel-within-panel layout technique that’s a little like Paul Azaceta’s in Outcast, and overall this book, like Superman: Rebirth, is an effective introduction to the next volume of the Gotham Knight’s adventures. Similarly, Green Lantern: Rebirth sets up the two focus characters of its next volume: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, the newest GLs of Earth, who fight a Manhunter, then get some tutoring and lecturing from Hal Jordan (he teams them up, and gives them the job of defending Earth while the other Lanterns are gone); meanwhile, there’s a tease about the next big villain they’ll be facing. If you’ve been reading the GL books so far, this isn’t so much a rebirth as a continuation, and should keep you hooked; if you’re a new reader, there’s enough going on to make you want to check out at least another issue or two. Meanwhile, Green Arrow spends most of its issue introducing Black Canary to the title. This is still the New-52 universe, so the two characters have barely met, but they immediately start bickering and bonding; it’s fan service, but done well, and should bring a smile to readers who know the characters’ long history. That leaves The Coming of the Supermen, the penultimate issue of Neal Adams’s mini-series involving Superman, three Kryptonians, Darkseid, Apokolips, and Lex Luthor; it’s typically-well-drawn, idiosyncratically-dialogued, and high-energy Adams craziness, and worth a look.
Control #1 (of 6) — Writers: Andy Diggle and Angela Cruickshank; Art: Andrea Mutti; Colors: Vladimir Popov
Strange Attractors #1 (of 5) — Writer: Charles Soule; Art: Greg Scott; Colors: Art Lyon and Matthew Patz
Let’s start the indies list with a trio of debuts and a conclusion: The Shadow mini-series is noticeable, not only because it’s written by longtime comics creator Matt Wagner (Mage, Grendel), but because it’s drawn by him too; his classic sense of page design and energetic pulp sensibilities are always welcome. Will a series whose title advertises the death of a major member of the book’s supporting cast actually deliver it? Doesn’t matter: this should be a fun ride regardless. Andy Diggle’s best known for his superhero work for DC (Green Arrow: Year One; Hellblazer) and Marvel (Thunderbolts, Daredevil), but his recent Uncanny for Dynamite shows his chops as a crime-comic writer, and Control continues that: it’s a police procedural with a female-detective lead that begins with a cop-homicide investigation, and then stirs in Senators, bondage cults, and other tropes. If you’re a fan of the genre, then you’ll like it; it’s the kind of gritty, throw-in-everything noir story that you might find while channel-surfing on the upper-cable channels late at night, and be intrigued enough to stay up watching. Strange Attractors, the other first issue, is actually a mini-series that reprints a graphic novel from 2013; Soules’s plot is a sort of love letter to New York City, as the book’s main characters use chaos and complexity theory to try to understand why the sprawling Big Apple doesn’t just collapse under its own weight — but something about the theories is making people go crazy and kill themselves. OK, and considerably better if you’ve ever spent time in NYC. That leaves the week’s concluding issue: Hellboy in Hell #10, which is supposedly the last Hellboy book from Mignola, after a couple of decades of chronicling his adventures. It’s suitably apocalyptic (although it’s told kind of sideways, as a flashback from a demon), and ends on an interesting circular path, calling back to the character’s origins, with a final chance to admire the writer/artist’s eerie, expertly-rendered ghost-story creations.
Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #13 — Writer/Artist: David Lapham
Paper Girls #6 — Writer: Brian K. Vaughan; Art: Cliff Chiang; Colors: Matt Wilson
Casanova: Acedia #5 — Writer: Matt Fraction; Art/Colors: Fabio Moon
Cinema Purgatorio #2 — Creators: Various
Deadly Class looks like a conclusion (there’s a pretty final-looking last-page cliffhanger), but it’s actually not over: there’s an issue #22 coming in the fall, and more after that, so presumably things aren’t as final as they appear; this arc, like the ones before it, has been a bloody, action-filled roller-coaster meditation on youth, violence, friendship and betrayal, and bears re-reading. Stray Bullets offers creator David Lapham’s typically-expert crime-noir stew, with even more violence and bad behavior than usual, as the story reaches a climax (although not yet a conclusion; it’s got more issues coming too). Paper Girls continues Brian K. Vaughan’s Spielbergian tale about the title quartet, who, having encountered time travelers from the future in their ’80s milieu, are now stranded in “our” time, with things getting weirder and more complicated by the minute. This isn’t a bad thing, though, because Vaughan has a lot of experience in adding lots of twists and clever bits to keep things interesting, and he’s aided considerably by Cliff Chiang’s attractive character designs and clear composition. Casanova:Acedia returns after a long hiatus, offering another installment of Matt Fraction’s sprawling multi-dimensional spy-caper comic; this arc, involving its hero suffering from amnesia, has been smaller-scale than most — a good thing, since the layoff hasn’t helped readers remember much about what’s been going on. However, the sleek Fabio Moon art (plus his brother, Gabriel Ba, on the backup story) makes it worthwhile, even if we’re all going to have to go back and reread the whole thing when it’s finally done. Cinema Purgatorio offers the second issue of that horror anthology hosted by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill; the title episode involves a rundown movie theater that may or may not be in hell, and the films it shows; there are also installments of Garth Ennis and Raul Caceres’s Pru, about an EMT who encounters various supernatural forces on her night shift; Modded, by Kieron Gillen and Ignacio Calero, a “What if Pokemon were actually demonic invaders, and we fought wars with them?” serial; A More Perfect Union, by Max Brooks and Michael Dipascale, about yet another alien invasion, this one of insect-like monsters who’ve caused the Civil War-era North and South armies to reunite to fight the common foe, instead of each other; and The Vast, by Christos Gage and Gabriel Andrade, about modern forces fighting even more monsters, these ones Godzilla-sized terraformers. The comic’s $5.99 for all of those stories by A-team creators, and although it’s not in color that’s more a feature than a bug, since all of the artists involved have styles that look great in that format (particularly Caceres and Calero); if you’re a horror fan, this has a lot to offer.
Deadpool #13 — Creators: Various
Amazing Spider-Man #13 — Writer: Den Slott; Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli; Inks: Cam Smith; Colors: Marte Gracia
Spider-Women: Omega #1 (of 1) — Story: Dennis Hopeless, Jason Latour and Robbie Thompson; Writer: Dennis Hopeless; Art: Mico Leon; Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Invincible Iron Man #10 — Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Art: Mike Deodato; Colors: Frank Martin
Moon Knight #3 — Writer: Jeff Lemire; Art: Greg Smallwood; Colors: Jordie Bellaire
The Punisher #2 — Writer: Becky Cloonan; Art: Steve Dillon; Colors: Frank Martin
The Marvels for the week (at the end of this list, for a change, instead of the beginning): Civil War II is the most-anticipated, and is surprisingly good: the event that sets up the split between Captain Marvel and Iron Man makes sense; you can see how each character would be both shaken by it and reinforced in their beliefs (and Stark’s reaction, especially, makes a nice callback to one of the major plot twists in the Captain America: Civil War movie). No other books are really needed to understand it, either, although Civil War II #0, from a few weeks ago, sets up some of the background on the future-caster Ulysses, and establishes the psychological underpinnings of the split, and the Free Comic Book Day Civil Wars II book, instead of being merely a reprint, expands on the book’s major fight scene, and is the place to actually witness the character death that sets everything off. Nice writing from Bendis, and very solid art from David Marquez (all those superheroes can’t be easy to draw) kick off the summer event in style. Deadpool is a quirky experiment — not that unusual for this book — that looks like it started as a crossover between Deadpool, Daredevil and Power Man and Iron Fist; instead of printing all those issues separately, though, they’ve put the whole thing into just this comic, for $9.99. The Wade Wilson stories that bookend the saga are both written by Gerry Duggan, with art by Jacobo Camagni and coloring by Veronica Gandini in the initial chapter, and art by Paco Diaz and coloring by Israel Silva in the conclusion. The second chapter is from regular Daredevil writer Charles Soule, with art by Guillmero Sanna and coloring by Mat Lopes; the third is from Power Man and Iron Fist scribe David Walker, with art by Elmo Bondoc and coloring by Nolan Woodard. Considering that’s the equivalent of four $3.99 comics for your penny-under-$10, and that it’s an entertaining tale involving the multiple-personality super-villain Typhoid Mary, it’s hard to pass up. Of the three Spider-books out this week, Amazing begins a big confrontation with Regent, the power-siphoning bad guy from one of the Secret Wars mini-series, as Peter Parker’s costumed character teams up with Iron Man and the Miles Morales Spider-Man (although Parker and Stark get into a fight first — as a look at the comic’s cover, by Alex Ross, will conform); it’s by the book’s regular creative team, and is as decent as always. Spider-Women: Omega finishes the crossover between the Spider-Woman, Silk and Spider-Gwen comics (and, boy, if you’ve been away from the hobby for five years and are just now coming back, that’s must be a weird sentence); if you haven’t been following the other installments, it won’t mean much to you, but for regular readers it’s an effective conclusion. Spider-Woman picks up on its heroine post-crossover, still juggling her job and baby duties, like any harried single mother — except that her job involves fighting the killing-machine Tiger Shark; writer Hopeless continues to make Jessica an appealing, complicated and inspiring main character, while Rodriguez shows his flexibility in making the fight scenes scary and exciting, and the baby ones adorable. Iron Man has Tony Stark in deep undercover in Tokyo, against a mutant techno-ninja who can appropriate and control any machine, plus Mary Jane Watson trying to decide whether to take his job offer and rescue his company, and Rhodey gathering some help for a big team-up next issue; Bendis and Deodato have both been creating stories like this for a long time now, and know just how to deliver them with maximum impact, suspense and a pinch of cocky humor. Moon Knight hits the halfway point of its first arc with its cast assembled and its hero finally in costume (it’s nice to see them using the white-suited redo from the Warren Ellis/Declan Shalvey run, which offers a cool, clean, striking visual for the character), and author Lemire continuing to play with just how crazy he is… or isn’t; this book has had a slow build, but looks like it’ll deliver a suitably-big payoff for it. The Punisher‘s got Steve Dillon art; no one draws lowlifes, cheerful psychos and grim heroes quite like him, and Becky Cloonan’s good at playing to his strengths and giving him plenty to do to keep readers happy. Mark Waid knows something about reader satisfaction, too, and his installment of the Avengers sees the team in space, helping Nova look for his lost father; the group characterization, with the younger members awestruck by the cosmic setting, and the fast-moving plot (with its literally-huge bad-guy reveal at the end), make this yet another book that’s hard to resist.