Rebirth Pains

Back at the old stand, we used to beat up on DC Comics a lot. Not as much as, say, The Outhousers, but we smacked around the Didio regime pretty regularly. (Mostly because of the wrongheaded idea that because the Nolan Batman movies were such a success, DC editorial apparently decided everything had to have that grimdark edgy look, even characters like Captain Marvel and the Flash.) Invariably, the comments section would be swarmed by angry DC loyalists who screamed at us that we were mean-spirited, unwilling to give the books a chance, and clearly just hated DC Comics and its characters to begin with.

So I feel like I should make my position clear right here at the top. I love DC comics and its characters. They were my gateway to… well, everything, really. Over and over, when I thought I’d outgrown superheroes or that I should to move on to other things, DC would publish something that lit me up the same way Adam West’s Batman and the Fox/Infantino Flash had back in 1967.

In the early 1970s it was O’Neil and Adams on “Half an Evil”…

In the 1980s it was stuff like the Wolfman/Perez Titans and Dark Knight and Swamp Thing

And in the 1990s there were Starman and the Grant Morrison JLA.

Something has always kept me hanging in there with the DC superheroes. Because I really do want to love them. Every time there’s one of those damnable reboots, whether it’s Zero Hour or the New 52 or whatever, I am rooting for it to be great. I am always hoping for that smile-inducing “Now THAT’S more like it!” feeling, that inner grin of satisfaction and delight that I got with Mark Waid’s Flash or Peter Tomasi’s Green Lantern Corps or John Rogers’ Blue Beetle.

The common thread through all of the above is that it’s never those Crisis-nothing-will-ever-be-the-same EVENT! comics that get me back. I really don’t care about the launch PAD. I care about the LAUNCH. I just want some regular ongoing DC superhero comics that I can enjoy, damn it.

So when I heard about Rebirth, especially how it was being sold as a course correction from the too-dark DC comics of the New 52, that pleased me. I was very glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one that thought the gritty joylessness of the New 52 was way out of hand. I bought the Rebirth special out of curiosity, and found it to be… well, not what I was hoping for.

But that was the launch pad, not the actual launch. And as I told you, I don’t really care that much about the platform, I care about what comes off it. So I figured when I had a chance to scoop up a bunch of the various Rebirth volume one trades for super cheap, I might as well take a chance. After all, no one thought Zero Hour would give us anything as cool as the Robinson/Harris Starman, right? You never know…

Now, bear in mind that this is not a review of the entire line or anything. This is just a sampling, a look at a handful of books I picked up from Goodwill at about a buck each. Because hope springs eternal, especially when it only costs a dollar.

So here are the books I picked up on impulse, and what I thought of each. Is the newly-reborn DC line of superhero comics hitting the target I’m hoping for, or not?

*

Batman. Now, if there’s a DC book that should be an easy sell to yours truly, it’s Batman. The character has been a fixture of my comics purchasing since 1969 and a monthly never-miss from 1984, when I got my first reserve box at Future Dreams down in Portland, Oregon. Even though Scott Snyder and his damn Owls obsession chased me off the main titles (thankfully, before the Joker sawed his face off and then Jim Gordon started going out in mecha Bat-armor) I still had Batman ’66. But seeing there was a new writer, I thought it might be time to look at the main titles again. I got the first three of King’s Batman collections and a hardcover collecting the Monster Men crossover.

And… well, I didn’t HATE them, exactly. Of the four, the Monster Men was the best because it never presented itself as anything other than a big damn monster story, a worthy heir to the original one from Batman #1…

It hurt the book some that Matt Wagner already revisited this one and did it better, but it’s been long enough that I will give them a pass on that. Mostly the new Monster Men was a good time though I couldn’t help noticing that the Bat squad has gotten really huge and unwieldy again.

If the team in the Batcave equals the number in the JLA I don’t think you get to call Batman a ‘loner’ any more. I suppose that’s why they killed off Tim Drake, a move which annoyed me so much that it almost put me off the story until I remembered that A) ALL the Robins have now died at least once and then gotten better, and B) he’s fictional.

Certainly I can understand the desire to pare down the ranks a bit, but why is death-in-a-heroic-sacrifice always the go-to-move? I think it would be just as plausible for Tim to look around the current Batcave coffee-klatsch and say, “Hey, you know what, I see eleven of you already here, I’m going back to college, thanks.” Apart from that, though, I liked the Monster Men crossover well enough for what it was. Bat guys fighting giant monsters. Gotham kaiju.

But the regular Batman books, I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane… they were barely even okay. In fact about all I can say for them is that I didn’t hate them as much as I hated Snyder’s run. Yes, it’s true that Asshole Teeth-Gritting Batman seems to have gone away… but in his place we now have Sad Batman, which is even worse. I know I sound like just another grumpy old fart when I start saying stuff like this, but for God’s sake, DC– THIS is your back-to-basics “Rebirth”? Bruce Wayne getting depressed because he knows he’s fighting a losing battle and crime will never be eradicated? “A little less grim” does NOT equal “Bringing the fun back.” Sorry. Especially when you dramatize sad Batman by surrounding him with other costumed types in the Batcave trying to psychoanalyze him. Even the television Gotham is done with a lighter touch than this. Moreover, it’s idiotic for Batman to be wondering what makes him happy when DC editorial has spent the last four decades– longer– repeatedly establishing that BEING BATMAN is what makes Bruce Wayne happy.

So, Monster Men aside, I think it’s back to Batman ’66 for me. I’ll be around for another look the next time they reboot, I suppose, but for now, I’m still done with the main Bat books.

*

Superman and Action. Okay, I am primarily a Batman guy, but I have almost as soft a spot for old-school Superman, as well. And the Rebirth creative teams here have a MUCH heavier lift on these titles, because Geoff Johns and Gene Yang had made it a point to destroy everything about the strip that was recognizably Superman. Outing him as Clark Kent, destroying his relationships with Lois Lane and everyone at the Daily Planet, depowering him, putting him in a T-shirt and jeans and tweaking the S-shield again. Even the spit-curl went away in favor of a buzzcut. And then putting him into a setting where his day job is fighting exhibition bouts in an MMA made up of superpeople.

At that point there’s hardly any reason to call the book Superman any more. It’s just some strong guy with an S on his T-shirt. Even someone coming to the character from something like the Smallville TV show or the Man of Steel movie would feel cheated. When the comic is called Superman, you have a certain expectation of what it’s about. It’s like ordering an ice cream sundae and getting a bowl of chili instead. Even if you like chili, it’s not what you asked for, you know?

So, like I said, writers Peter Tomasi on Superman and Dan Jurgens on Action had a LOT to walk back (because, even when you’ve established a tradition of rebooting your entire fictional universe every few years going back to 1985, you can’t ever just START OVER, you have to explain why first… but that’s another column.)

The plan of attack on this is interesting. Since DC brought back the multiverse idea, they just killed off buzzcut MMA Superman and replaced him with another one from a parallel universe, a Superman that’s older and more experienced and married to his parallel-world Lois. They live on a farm in upstate New York and have a son, Jon, who’s also superpowered.

Now, in fairness, this take on Superman is almost as non-traditional and unrecognizable as Johns and Yang’s buzzcut version. But the cool part is that this guy at least talks and acts like the traditional Superman most of us know, his Lois isn’t a bitch, and there’s a nice silver-age Superboy vibe over the whole thing, with Superman trying to channel the wisdom of his adoptive parents. Being a parent is a challenge that maybe even a Superman isn’t ready for, and watching him struggle with it is a lot of fun. I always said that watching Superman and Lois Lane figuring out how to have a real relationship and be married could be every bit as interesting as their single-and-dating days, but most comics writers were too immature ever to try it. It’s nice to see someone finally rising to the challenge.

In addition to all that, there are a bunch of nice subplots about this new/old Superman having to earn the trust of the Justice League, the mystery of the Clark Kent that is currently living in Metropolis, and so on. It might not be innovative or anything but it’s good superhero comics; a line drive straight up the middle, let’s say. Jurgens is writing solidly professional adventure stories and Tomasi might be my current favorite mainstream DC writer; great with the character stuff and also good with action plots. That’s really all I want or need from a Superman comic. I think I might be keeping up with these in the trade paperbacks.

*

Trinity. All right, first of all, I like the idea. It’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in an ongoing team book; World’s Finest plus one, more or less. Second, I am really enjoying the lighter touch Francis Manapul is bringing to the scripting, and this first arc, which is about Mongul recruiting Poison Ivy to take out our three heroes by breeding some more of the parasitic Black Mercy plants, was a clever way to revisit an old favorite. (Look, if you’re going to swipe Alan Moore’s riffs, at least do something new with them. Adding Poison Ivy to the plot was a great idea and brings a little more Batman lore into the mix.) The instigating incident, which is basically Lois nagging Clark to invite his JLA work friends up to the farm for dinner, is also a lot of fun and almost felt like a plot point out of The Incredibles. This is the kind of not-grim-just-good style of superheroing I was hoping for from the Rebirth titles.

So it’s a big thumbs-up on this one. This is much more what I’m after with a DC comic– everyone sounds and acts in character and the story is fun and has real stakes without being reality-altering reboot HUGE. I’ll probably be hanging in with this one in trade as long as Manapul’s writing it.

*

Justice League. This is another title I’m sentimental about, and I’m always willing to at least check out the new version whenever there is one. But in recent years, I haven’t gotten my hopes up; the last time I was really enjoying the JLA was when it was Waid and Hitch, over a decade ago. Since then it seems like it’s been largely vacillating between annoyingly self-referential and out-and-out unintentional self-parody. Everyone seems to be trying to re-create what Morrison and Porter were doing without the faintest understanding of what it actually was.

This time it’s Bryan Hitch writing it, not drawing it. Which is all very well except he writes it like it’s a script meant for Bryan Hitch to draw, about an alien invasion of Earth that’s huge and apocalyptic and epic, filled with scenes of monstrous devastation and alien architecture… but in fact it’s Tony Daniel drawing it, and he’s not quite up to the job. Even with that caveat, though, it seems like a story that’s the right size for the League, the roster is a nice mix of veterans like Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and newer folks like Cyborg and the new Green Lantern recruits Simon and Jessica, and Hitch is good at giving everyone something to do. It should work. All the elements are there.

But… I guess I’m jaded, but it all feels kind of generic. There’s no real sense of danger, despite all the scenes of devastation. I finished the book and had very little idea of what it was all about; it’s never quite clear what the aliens want or why they showed up, and it’s left completely unresolved.

There were some nice character bits with Barry Allen and Jessica, but overall there’s not much there. I don’t think I’m going to bother keeping up with this one, especially since I have Trinity now.

*

Nightwing. Okay, I have to own up; when I was a kid, I always wanted Robin out of the Bat books… Burt Ward did a lot to damage the character in my youthful mind and that distaste carried over to the comics. But in the early 70s, I discovered that Robin solo was actually one of my favorite things. College-age Robin, the cheerful and snarky guy who was trained by the world’s greatest detective and is not at all intimidated by the Justice League, was great fun and not nearly as annoying.

The best versions of Nightwing have keyed in on that, the idea that Dick Grayson has seen it ALL. Dick as the one guy in the DC Universe who’s not scared of talking back to Batman, who still drops by Wayne Manor to hang with Alfred and do his laundry, is my favorite take on him and it’s one of the things I really enjoyed about Grayson. Since this new Nightwing is written by the same guy, I was looking forward to it. Sadly, the first arc lost points with me almost instantly because it’s the damn Court of Owls again. Honestly, my reaction to the Court of Owls is a lot like the girl in Mean Girls who bursts out with “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen!” Yeah. Stop trying to make the Court of Owls happen, DC.

So I had a huge bias against it going in. But apart from that, it was a pretty good book. I loved that there was more than one story, and the second one, where Nightwing must rescue Bruce Wayne from the psychotic Raptor, had a lot of those great grown-up Boy Wonder moments I was talking about.


I just goddam loved it. I won’t spoil it but the last page was almost worth the price of admission on its own. When Nightwing embraces its Bat connection instead of trying to run away from it, the book shines, whether its Chuck Dixon or Peter Tomasi or Tim Seeley writing. More of this, please. Provisionally in for the paperbacks at least as long as Seeley’s on the book.

*

And there you have it. About fifty-fifty I guess. Nothing I got so excited about I wanted to put them on a monthly pull list. But at least there are new DC comics out there I can enjoy again, and I didn’t waste a lot of money on stuff I don’t like. I guess, after fifty years (almost) of reading the damn things, I finally figured out how to enjoy them without getting all co-dependent about it.

*

Housekeeping note: As our other Greg notes, it’s been a year since we gave up trying to fit in under the new CBR management and started up the Junk Shop. We are so pleased and grateful for you folks supporting our stuff here, whether you followed us from CBR or found us on your own, that I’m at a loss for words. Thank you seems inadequate somehow, but… thank you. As long as you want to read it we’ll keep writing it.

We also appreciate your patience with the tech glitches this week… we are changing servers and that is always a little wonky, and I won’t bore you with the technical details. Anyway, Jim is the only one of us that really understands it. He could tell us he had to reconfigure the deflector dish to tie it in to the impulse drive and we’d probably just nod. Nevertheless, we are grateful to Jim for being our tech wizard and to you all for letting us work this stuff out in public.

And finally, a reminder– we don’t get that sweet CBR cash any more, so we are dependent on ad income and referral fees to keep this thing going. If you click on any of the Amazon links above and do a little shopping, even when what you buy is not the thing we linked to, they still throw us a couple of bucks. So please, use us as your Amazon gateway. It really does help.

Back next week with something cool.

32 Comments

  1. frasersherman

    The launch platform is a mess. Rebirth seems to cover “bring back old Superman,” “retcon new WW origin away” to “different writer/artist team.”
    King’s Batman’s a mess. Given all the years we’ve spent being told Batman hates other heroes operating in Gotham, his sudden embrace of Gotham Girl is just … convenient. And I don’t care for the origin revamp in Vol. 2.
    In agreement with you on Superman and JLA—Hitch’s writing is really lazy. Nightwing — I think they get DIck but Raptor didn’t work for me at all; the second volume was better except for one baaaad plot twist.
    Wonder Woman: I’m delighted to get rid of the New 52 origin, but taking one TPB to realize Everything That Got Rebooted Was a Lie is way too long.

  2. Edo Bosnar

    Thanks for this rundown; I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to read all of this stuff, but this helps give me an idea of what’s going on in some of the current comics. I like the characterization of Trinity as World’s Finest +1 – never thought of the concept that way, but it sounds cool.
    Also, I’m surprised you didn’t cover Aquaman here. I’m really curious about it now that the art is being done by Sejic (whose work is just beautiful everywhere I’ve seen it).

  3. I bailed on Batman after Crisis on Infinite Earths because I hated the rebooted Jason Todd and the lame riff on Oliver Twist that came with him, so I’m completely in the dark here; what the hell is the Court of Owls, anyway? I was actively avoiding DC at the time, but last I checked, owls are not bats, so what’s the connection? Is this something I’m going to regret googling?

    1. frasersherman

      The court is a cabal of Gotham’s elite who have been running the city behind the scenes since Gotham existed. They have immortal killers called Talons recruited from the Haley Circus. Despite lurking in shadows, they don’t bat an eye at making very public displays of what they can do whenever the plot calls for it.
      I think the Law and the Multiverse blog had a fair point: given how corrupt Gotham has been shown to be, why exactly do Gotham’s 1 percent even need something like this to get what they want?

    2. I was actively avoiding DC at the time, but last I checked, owls are not bats, so what’s the connection? Is this something I’m going to regret googling?

      Probably. But not nearly as much as I regret the fourteen months’ worth of Batman comics I paid for to read about them before giving up. I stood it through Judd Winick’s Red Hood, even, but the Court of Owls did me in. After forty-some years.

      Also, I’m surprised you didn’t cover Aquaman here. I’m really curious about it now that the art is being done by Sejic (whose work is just beautiful everywhere I’ve seen it).

      I was going to, but honestly, it wasn’t in the book pile; I am already getting it. It’s the only DC book left on my pull list. I still like it but not as much now that we’re back to palace intrigue in Atlantis again. I want more of Arthur and Mera in Amnesty Bay, hanging out with the locals. Small-town superhero is a thing that hardly anyone ever has tried outside of the old Superboy… and the stuff Parker did with it, especially, was just gold.

      1. Edo Bosnar

        Yeah, you’ve mentioned the Parker stuff before, and I’ve heard good things about it elsewhere on the internets. I’m actually keeping an eye out for reasonably priced copies of the trades, as I’d really like to read that run.

      2. M-Wolverine

        I pretty much hate anything that “they’ve been around the whole time/longer than the hero been around/pulling strings forever” groups. It never fails to disappoint and make the hero AND the bad guys look incompetent. There’s a rare thing where it kinda works, like Apocalypse being the first mutant. But mostly it’s a Vourt of Owls mess. This may only be behind “hero lived another lifetime/a thousand years in another time/space/dimension” but comes back to “current” time no older and exactly the same. Because you can live that long and still have not had your mentality altered drastically.

  4. kyekye

    I’ve been reading you guys since this site went up. I was just getting into comics and had only heard of CSBG right was all that change happened. You seemed keen on hearing from readers in the Anniversary post, so I thought I’d let you know you’ve got another one out there 🙂

    So Rebirth was literally my first foray into comics. Up to that point, I only knew what I knew from TV and film. Like you, Batman was my gateway so that’s where I started. I knew nothing about Superman, except that the new movies were bad. I’d only seen the Christopher Reeve one once a long time ago, and none of the sequels. I’ve watch half of Arrow season 1. I only knew about the Teen Titans from Cartoon Network. So here are my thoughts on what I’ve read.

    Batman: Just finished Volume 2 and like you I’m underwhelmed. I will say there are some good individual stories there. And I appreciate that he’s not near death every other panel like in 52. I think Gotham ran a bit long. I really liked the Catwoman story at the end of Volume 2. And I cherry-picked the Swamp Thing issue when that came out. It was a great standalone issue (#23 if you’re interested). I also liked The Button crossover with Flash. There was actually some detective-ing going on there.

    Detective Comics: Too many characters and felt too much like the “writing for trade” trap. Each arc felt like it was an issue too long. With all the characters I felt like there was too much backstory I was supposed to know about. Still, I read the first three story arcs. They were all just okay.

    Superman: Knowing nothing about Superman, I was thrilled with this. This was just FUN! The Rebirth lead-in issue confused the hell out of me, and I’m not looking forward to the Reborn arc where they reconcile all of the Supermans, but I definitely want to read more. And it makes me want to read Super Sons.

    Green Arrow: Read the first volume and enjoyed it more than the Batman stuff. I’ll try to keep going as I get through some backlog. I’ve heard elsewhere that this is one of (if not the) most improved book of Rebirth.

    Aquaman: Just started volume 1 and I’m getting the same vibe I got from Superman. We’ll see if the fun can hold up. Maybe not a coincidence that this, Superman, and Green Arrow are the most colorful books and the most enjoyable.

    Deathstroke: I have absolutely loved this book. I’ve got the singles on pull from my LCS (the only consistent book during my 18 months). The story is complex but well paced. The characters are introduced and given depth. It’s challenging, but I think that’s why I appreciate it so much.

    I dipped my toes into Birds Of Prey and Teen Titans as well. The former just didn’t seem very good. The latter felt very rote. They also changed artists practically out of the gate so it was hard to get a sense for what the book was going to look like on a regular basis.

  5. M-Wolverine

    Well, I guess I’m glad I didn’t come back for Rebirth. Nu52 did me in for mainstream DC (and no bias, Marvel is headed that way right now too).

    There’s always been a bit of a Bat-Family, but with it this big and active, does that make Batman unique in any way? It’s like what they had to do with Crisis when there were 10,000 Kryptonians running around. Make Superman unique again. Time to do it with Batman. Besides, how incompetent do they look with THAT many people and they can’t even clean up basic crime Gotham. People should be fighting to stay in Arkham so the Riddler doesn’t have to get his ass beat by a whole team of Bats.

    Superman just made things more messy. If they had gone back and gotten married Superman have a son with Lois, that would be fine. Growth is ok. But we’ve got new guy alternative universe what not. I mean, that means the original Superman is dead or non-existent somewhere, right? And the Nu52 was the “real” guy? Meh.

    And Justice League has TWO Green Lanterns in it, besides the regulars? Do they fight the Anti-Monitor every issue? I bet yellow still doesn’t bother them either…

    1. frasersherman

      ” It’s like what they had to do with Crisis when there were 10,000 Kryptonians running around. Make Superman unique again.”
      Only that’s like getting rid of kryptonite. Sounds like it’ll shake things up, but it’s never going to last. Though I do wish they’d use Kryptonians other than Zod. Or write a Zod who isn’t an Earth-despising militarist.

  6. Louis Bright-Raven

    Interesting to see your take on the books, Greg.

    Me, I honestly have zero interest in any of it. I do wish it were otherwise. I’m not saying the books are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I’m just so disinterested in the creative teams, disinterested in the directions of the characters, that it’s a waste of my money to even try. I might wait for the trades at the library and borrow those, and my reaction will undoubtedly range from “OMG this sucks – thank God I didn’t pay money for this.” to, “OK, this didn’t suck… but it’s still not anything I’d actually pay money for to own and read again.” And therein lies the rub. If it’s not something I want to own and reread, the product isn’t good enough.

    A prefect point you bring up is the MONSTER MEN story. “It hurt the book some that Matt Wagner already revisited this one and did it better, but it’s been long enough that I will give them a pass on that.” See, that’s exactly why I *won’t* give them a pass. Because I’ve already got the Wagner version and it *is* better and I don’t need / want to see yet another recycled content work from an overrated, overused writer like King. Not when you, or Ron Fortier, or Bobby Nash, or John Hartness, or Geoff Thorne, or Jay Nakashima, or any of another 10 writers whom I’d like to see write Batman could do something more unique and IMO better.

    So there’s no reason for me to even look at it, now is there? That’s just how I look at it.

    “But the regular Batman books, I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane… they were barely even okay. In fact about all I can say for them is that I didn’t hate them as much as I hated Snyder’s run. Yes, it’s true that Asshole Teeth-Gritting Batman seems to have gone away… but in his place we now have Sad Batman, which is even worse.” Yeah, that’s about right. The ‘quality’ of these books is about the same as saying taking a kidney punch is better than taking a kick in the nuts. You’re still a pile of quivering, whimpering flesh on the floor praying God will just strike you down and take the pain away.

    “I know I sound like just another grumpy old fart when I start saying stuff like this, but for God’s sake, DC– THIS is your back-to-basics “Rebirth”? Bruce Wayne getting depressed because he knows he’s fighting a losing battle and crime will never be eradicated? “A little less grim” does NOT equal “Bringing the fun back.” Sorry.”

    No, you don’t sound like a grumpy old fart. You sound like someone who should be writing the damned book so that we get the real Bruce Wayne instead of grim-dark Gary Stu Wayne, which is pretty much what we’ve seen out of the main Bat books for most of the past 25 years.

        1. Louis Bright-Raven

          M-Wolverine:

          “Why not do a sequel? If they can bring back a Death Star couldn’t Strange tweak his monsters and just make them better?”

          But that’s the point – you have to make the story (NOT the McGuffin weapon, be it the Death Star, Starkiller Base, Hugo Strange’s monsters, whatever… but the STORY) better than the original when you do a sequel. And let’s be honest, we all know that ROTJ is the worst of the original SW trilogy because all it does is rehash what’s already been presented from the first two movies.

          Now, Matt Wagner’s version was more of a retelling of the original story than a sequel. If you want to talk the ‘sequel’ story, then I think I would say go to the short arc by Englehart & Rogers in the 1970s Detective Comics run (#471-73 I think, around I want to say 1976-77?)

          Tom King’s version however is just a third, fourth generation recyclist effort. Yes the technical execution is professional enough. But ultimately it’s just going through the motions, throwing in a bunch of characters I don’t care about (Batwoman, Spoiler, others in the Bat-Team) with supposed ‘heightened stakes’ at risk.

          Hence, no interest on my end in that particular example.

          1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            In fairness to King…it’s Steve Orlando’s version. King didn’t even solo write the tie-in issues, because it’s the sort of thing he has no interest in.

          2. Louis Bright-Raven

            All right, Carlos. I was under the mistaken impression it was King. It all blurs together to me between these ‘writers’ today, and King’s other Bat-related works (GRAYSON / NIGHTWING / ROBIN WAR) left me feeling the same way – hollow and just going through the motions. To be fair, a lot of this stuff is being co-written between multiple titles and multiple writers and that can lessen the end results. I haven’t had a chance to try OMEGA MEN or THE VISIONS (which is entirely King and nobody else) yet, but I’m not exactly holding my breath for either.

          3. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

            King’s never written an issue of Nightwing. That’s his Grayson writing partner, Tim Seeley (who writes thoroughly competent, albeit uninspiring, superhero books).

            You’ve actually managed to read the least representative sample possible of his work, haha!

            If any issue of Grayson made you sit up and say “Wow,” (say, the Future Imperfect one) King wrote it.

            His Batman is mediocre, and Omega Men doesn’t really o it for me, but The Vision and Sheriff of Babylon are absolutely stunning accomplishments.

            I’ll put the latter up there with Fury: My War Gone By, and I can’t even think of a reference point that articulates how excellent his Vision run is.

            That said: Robin War sucks. His Batman feels off to me (with the exception of that Swamp Thing issue), and Grayson is very hit or miss, largely based on whether King or Seeley is pulling writing duties in a given month.

          4. Louis Bright-Raven

            “King’s never written an issue of Nightwing. That’s Tim Seeley, his writing partner…”

            King at least officially co wrote issue #30 with Seeley (which I think was the last issue of the series before they launched GRAYSON). And yes, I would agree with your assessment of Seeley’s work. I may be wrong, but I think King may have co-plotted with Seeley uncredited for 1-3 issues just before that, as well.

  7. thefizzdaddy

    Did you really get those trades at Goodwill for $1?! What a deal!

    I have mixed feelings about Rebirth Batman. It definitely feels more like stories about Batman stories than actual Batman stories. I was a bit perturbed to see Bane take down ALL of the Robins and/or former Robins (Dick, Tim, Damain) off panel before he challenges Bruce in “I Am Bane.” There are some interesting insights into why Batman continues his fight with quite a bit of self-awareness on his part about dressing up as a bat. Not much detective work.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Okay, Carlos, first I saw you in the comments section of the AV Club. Now I see you in the comments section of Jimmy Kempski’s Eagles’ report card. Are you following me around or am I following you? It’s just weird on the vast internet to come across someone thrice in such different circumstances!

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        I’ve been on both the AVC and BGN (where I go by YankeesEaglesWhat) for over 5 years, haha. I’ve been reading Jimmy since before the Blogging the Beast days!

        Oliver Sava’s Big Issues pieces were my intro to long form comics criticism, looking for more of that approach is how I found CSBG a couple years ago, although I was much more of a lurker there.

        Yay, internet overlap, haha!

  8. Andrew Collins

    Other than Astro City and the occasional oddball project, like the Wonder Woman/Conan mini-series, I’ve pretty much given up on DC. Or at least, the “mainstream” DC. I grew up in the post-Crisis era of the late 80’s and early 90’s and so that DC was “my” DC. I invested time (and LOTS of money) in learning every character’s name and back story and was anxious every month to see how the DCU progressed.

    As the 90’s wore on, my enthusiasm began to wane with a growing number of terrible comics and only the occasional truly brilliant one (Ostrander’s Spectre, Robinson’s Starman, etc.) By the early 2000’s, even that was gone. I would still pick up some peripheral book from DC during the “Didio/post-Identity Crisis” era because it felt weird to NOT be buying a DC book regularly, but I stayed away from all the main “core” DCU books because they had been Didio-ized (or maybe “Johnsed”) with lots of rape, maiming and oppressive darkness.

    So when DC rebooted with the New 52, I didn’t write it off right away. The premise seemed interesting, if awkwardly segued into, and so I decided to pick up a bunch of the early issues. I thought maybe it would capture the spirit of the pre-2000’s DC. Huge mistake. They were everything I hated about DC to the nth degree. The only books I stuck with were Animal Man and Swamp Thing because they read like giant love letters to the Alan Moore and Grant Morrison heyday. Eventually, even with those, I just realized I could re-read those original comics instead.

    With “Rebirth” I have found I just can’t care a lick. Fool me once, shame on me, and well, you know the rest. That’s great that Superman is married again to Lois. I love that it and so many other pre-New 52 aspects are being brought back. But you can’t just slap a new can of paint on a rusted-out car and convince me it’s new and improved. I know it sounds entitled, but these will never be “my” DC characters again, just replacements running around with the same names and really awful looking costumes. I used to shrug when older DC fans complained about losing “their” DC with the original Crisis. Now I sympathize with them more than ever…

    1. kyekye

      None of this changes that Rebirth proved to be a great jumping on point for a new reader like myself. Trying to sort out all the history of pre/post-Crisis and Flashpoint and what is/isn’t in canon… it’s just too much. Starting with Rebirth and just taking the current stories for what they are has worked out great.

      The worst thing about it is when they try and do all the nonsense with the DCU. Wouldn’t it be nice if these stories just stood on their own? All the re-conning Superman really gets in the way of the fun Superman stories they’re telling. Batman making detours to find Dr. Manhattan distracts from the Catwoman subplot running throughout. But if you can separate that out, the stories actually are pretty fun. Most people just point to Batman and stop though. Try Green Arrow or Aquaman and just have fun with it!

      1. Andrew Collins

        Yeah, if people are jumping on board with Rebirth and enjoying it, I certainly don’t mean to belittle that. But it’s been a jumping-off for me. Like you said, the canon/non-canon thing had gotten out of control. Heck, even the post-Crisis period I spoke fondly of in my first post was, admittedly, a mess too, with the Superboy, LOSH, Aquaman, and Hawkman back stories jacked up by sloppy editorial decisions. Probably the dumbest decision of the whole New 52 debacle was the 5-year compressed storyline they tried to shoehorn in, while trying to still have all their Robins too. I haven’t tried Aquaman, but I did read the first few issues of the Rebirth Green Arrow and it seemed too tied in to the TV show’s tone for me to truly get into…

        1. frasersherman

          Funny, I found GA’s rebirth a very deliberate throwback to his older, more radical style–though severely flawed. Everyone reacts as though evil bankers who finance terrorist groups and launder money had never existed before that story. And “the Burned” is an impressively lame name for the henchmen.

  9. Le Messor

    I have a friend who’s commented that the problem with Rebirth is they say they’re bringing back the old-style characters (like the pre-52 Superman), but it’s the same creative teams who ruined them in the first place who are still writing them.

    I can see the flaw he’s talking about.

Leave a Reply