TRINITY / BRITANNIA / RAVEN / CYBORG [Reviews]: Rebirth of Justice.
How does DC’s all important Trinity fare in their Rebirth debut? In a word:
The first gathering of the holy trinity of the DCU — Batman, Wonder Woman, and the new (old) Superman! The dynamics have changed since Rebirth. We have a Wonder Woman who has to accept that the man she loved is gone, and needs to come to peace with that man coming back with his wife, Lois Lane and their son Jon (Superboy, maybe!). Batman, who has trust issues to begin with, is still feeling out who this man who was once his friend is. The Kent‘s themselves are adjusting to life in this Rebirth universe. They have memories of, Pre-Flashpoint and Pre-Crisis, stories that connect them to their friends, that they themselves have no recollection of. This issue is all about breaking bread and starting over for the terrific trio.
Speaking of trinities however, Francis Manapul (The Flash, Detective Comics), does triple duty here, writing, drawing and coloring this beautiful book and he does not miss a beat. Harking back to the style he ushered in his Superboy run, we have inventive double page spreads, soft tones and hard hitting action all at once.
Britannia is a mashup of detective novels, sword-and-sandals epics and Lovecraftian mythos, all swirled into a head brew for Valiant Comics by visionary writer Peter Milligan (Detective Comics), and the always intense artist Juan Jose Ryp (Ninjak, as well as a slew of books for Avatar Comics). Britannia #1 is an ambitious work, full of imperial intrigue, bizarre monsters and fanciful extensions of Roman history. It’s also dark, thrilling fun.
Milligan creates an environment in which readers are continually having unexpected experiences. The ritual at the beginning of this book is frightening because we have no grounding in the moment, and the events at the end confuse and delight because they seem to promise yet more darkness and strangeness. In between, we watch the deranged Emperor Nero, see the strange machinations of the Vestal Virgins and experience the bizarre changes that the warrior, Antonius, is forced to go through.
Ryp’s grimy artwork is perfect for a book like this, where the emotions of characters always seem nearly at a fever pitch–where sex and violence are inevitable products of the setting–and where monsters seem to be lurking in the darkness, or in the spooky, foggy land of Britannia. There’s an overwhelming sense of decay in his style, a feeling of decadence that brings out unexpected depths to this story. With books like Faith and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, Valiant has been raising the bar on super-hero comics over the last few months. Britannia raises the bar still further by bringing readers to a decadent and fascinating ancient Rome.
The new DC Rebirth comics have seen characters being placed in new situations and are now pushing those characters in new directions, whether the new Green Lantern books that focus on the new Lanterns or Superman which shows Pre-52 Superman dealing in a Post-52 world. But what better way for Raven to start.. than for comic legend Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths) to take up place her in a foreign environment: a real family. Not that the Titans weren’t a family, but she is figuring out just where she comes from. In Raven #1, our hero goes on a search for the family she never knew she had; and, when she finds them(!!), they are a God-loving family–a great departure for a child of the devil.
Wolfman has no issue placing this world-weary teen (who has seen more than most grown adults) smack dab in high school, relying on advice that her fellow Titans gave about how to “be human.” There are a lot of neat, little jokes here and there; but the story drives itself. The art by Alison Borges (Earth 2: Society, Lobo) is crisp and clean, setting the right tone for a series that delves into the mystical and religious–not overly realistic, or cartoony. 4.5/5 Bibles.
With Apple nixing the headphone jack and Samsung’s melting faces, it seems that technology has had it pretty bad these last few weeks, and now it’s bringing down Rebirth with it. Cyborg #1 might be one of the few glitches in an otherwise pretty stellar upgrade to DC’s mainframe. If you’d like to know more about this crash, look no further than the dated programming behind it’s pages.
First of all, Vic Stone himself is probably the only one not having as much fun as his JLA counterparts. He boots up just fine at the top of the issue, kicking ass and taking names–literally. But he does it in such cheesy interface. He makes an arrogant mountain out of the ho-hum molehill of finding out the identities of two bank robbers, just to find out that they used to be criminals? That didn’t need to be done, Vic. They would have gone to jail no matter what. I guess it allowed writer John Semper Jr. (Static Shock) to have a fun Mr. Robot moment, but then he spoils it by directly referencing.. Mr. Robot. The rest of the issue continues to run old software on failing specs. Vic, and his pseudo-Frankenstein story around him becomes a Cy-bore (deal with the pun, I had to deal with their jokes in this issue) and fumbles through shitty existential tropes while we have to deal with the same cliche part-man, part-monster, “do I have a soul?” emotional interface.
The art by Paul Pelletier (Aquaman) can be a bit messy, but I’m sure they just wanted to get something in around the massive amount of expository speech bubbles. That isn’t to say there isn’t good in this book, it’s just buried deep inside. Vic’s love interest, Sarah, gets to dole out some of the more clever wit in the issue as well as a couple of kids that interact with Cyborg for a joke so on-the-nose it almost goes around to being funny again. Hopefully, Semper’s jazz metaphor in the book also means that this first movement (read: comic book issue) was just setting up the standard chord progression, and now, with this upcoming fight with Kilgore, we’ll finally get to see the soul of Cyborg (read: kick-ass-ness) really start to come alive. 2/5 Free DLC’s.