WONDER WOMAN / THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS / AQUAMAN / THE FLASH [Rebirth Reviews]: Under The Hood.
If you don’t know the name Liam Sharp already, get ready: this summer, you’re bound to hear it a lot. Sharp (2000 A.D., Gears of War) might just be the breakout star in all this Rebirth madness, too, which is no surprise to me, really, since DC fangirls and boys were already “ooohing” and “aahhing” months ago at Sharp’s revealed sketches during DC’s Rebirth announcement event. His Wonder Woman is the perfect mesh of power and finesse, her confidence entirely believable in every which way. With an assist from the dynamic Game of Thronesque colors of Laura Martin (Astonishing X-Men), her stature, motion and stance fit the regality witnessed with Gal Gadot in BvS; and the sudden fear struck across her face during the issue’s final confrontation–and, better, antagonist reveal–is nearly heartbreaking.
Also picking up on Diana’s newfound steam is writer Greg Rucka (The Punisher, Batwoman). After an exposition-laden Rebirth issue a couple weeks ago, Rucka steers WW “Into The Woods” and the results are hauntingly beautiful. Each panel is designed like a quick edit cut, but with all the harsh spirituality of her Themysciran heritage. Sharp’s wild character designs are captivating, and Rucka’s dialogue never cheeses up the battles. Readers siding with Diana should have their hearts beating the whole time. With Etta and Steve Trevor (who looks damned gruff and cool in this issue) also locked in for at least half of this ongoing, it’ll be interesting to see how her forthcoming origin story (drawn by Nicola Scott) affects the current, vastly enjoyable matter-at-hand. 4.5/5 Bibles.
Batman is fairly aged and worn down in the latest episode of Brian Azzarello (Wonder Woman) and 300 scribe Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns. Bruce is honing Robin in hopes that he will have a suitable successor once he has officially retired. There is a great conflict between the men, and Batman sees much of himself in the impulses of his young partner. However, Bruce’s fatherly nature is not ignored in his attempts to tighten the reigns on his blooming partner.
As The Joker wrecks his sociopathic havoc on Gotham’s insane asylum and the city itself, Batman battles age, injury, and internal conflicts while Robin is pushing forward to establish himself as a important figure in Gotham; although his youth and inexperienced expose him. The Last Crusade is massive, and offers a bit of everything — both heavy on suspense and action — while maintaining interest throughout. 3.5/5 Sin City Bibles.
When Geoff Johns brought Aquaman into the New 52, he poked fun at his status in pop culture and really made the book come to life. His run, much like that of his Green Lantern, was nothing short of amazing. So when Rebirth was announced, this comic-loving Cardinal was very intrigued to see if Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) could recapture that glory–and I have to say, the usual space-set scribe does an admirable job of recreating what made Johns’ Aquaman so great. Arthur Curry is a literal “fish outta water”. Pun intended, of course. Mera (a.k.a. “Aquawoman”) is the only one under the ocean who truly loves and has faith in Art, and he is feared by the majority of the surface world.
Abnett has created great tension within the book between Arthur Curry and his people, the surface world and an ever-vengeful Black Manta. Former GOTG artist Brad Walker’s art is crisp, clean and, at times, dynamic. It’s not the overly cartoonish Aquaman of yore; but, he is bringing an indie-esque, realistic approach that looks fantastic. With this slippery super team, this run has the potential to be — at the very least — the second best ever run on Aquaman. 4.5/5 Underwater Neptune Bibles.
This #1 in the DC Rebirth Universe, goes through the day-to-day live of Barry Allen, the best known iteration of the speed force, a.k.a. The Flash. It seems like Barry is having trouble, you know, with reality missing a whole decade and all. But, he is making the best of it, living his dual life as the heroic speedster and civilian gig as a Central City forensic scientist. While the Flash saves folks from tornados and burning buildings, Barry Allen is reviewing crime scenes to give justice to those he couldn’t save. He has a full life, Wally West (a.k.a. Kid Flash) has returned, and he is playing a father figure to.. uh.. Wally West, Iris’ nephew; all a bit confusing, sure, but the entire issue is really just a set up for the players.
S.T.A.R. Labs transport gets attacked and someone Barry cares about gets caught in the middle and lightning strikes…again. Someone undergoes a transformation and indeed “The Storm Is Just Getting Started”. We’re barely in the first act and this reader is hooked. Writer Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight, Robocop) brilliantly uses Barry’s internal monologue to move the chess pieces into place. The immensely talented Carmine Di Giandomenico’s (Daredevil, X-Factor) art is given is fantastically rendered life by colorist Ivan Plascencia (Constantine, Haunt). The speed force looks as much a character as any of the others and that action sequences leap off the pages. Tune in for the next episode! 4.5/5 Lightning Bibles.