Comics/Graphic Novels

Reading Through Rebirth: Week One

Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

DC’s Rebirth is upon us: yet another reboot, this time attempting to roll back the New 52 reboot of 2011 while maintaining what fans liked about that universe. Though I’ve been outspoken about how much I dislike the positioning of Rebirth as being for entrenched and lapsed fans, I’m also a dyed-in-the-wool DC girl who loved the pre-Flashpoint universe, so I’ve decided to give DC the fairest chance I can: I will read every single Rebirth special and #1 issue from this relaunch. Will I make it, or will trying to keep up with a line-wide event send me running for the hills? And what does a new universe look like when it’s rolled out week by week? Let’s find out together!

dcu rebirthDC Universe: Rebirth (Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ethan Van Sciver, et al.)

Okay, okay, technically this came out last week, sue me. The solicit for this issue says “It all begins here” but the truth is that this 80-page behemoth is an ending: of the New 52, to be precise. This is no jumping on point; it’s dense and expository and literally begins with a call to read two other comics first. Brian breaks it down for us over here. I’ll just add that despite the narration’s promise that we’re returning to an era of hope and love – and the deeply affecting reunion between Barry and Wally – this book also features a woman being straight-up vaporized. Not to mention the heavy emphasis on Silver Age characters, and predominantly white and male ones at that. It’s a meta journey through the DCU for sure, but for all its lengthy page count I’m not yet convinced that it has anything new or different to say.

Good for Newbies? Nope.
Good for Oldbies? For sure.

batman rebirthBatman: Rebirth (Scott Snyder, Tom King, Mikel Janin, June Chung, and Deron Bennett)

Batman is DC’s most valuable character and unsurprisingly, they loaded the deck for this one. It paid off. I don’t even like Batman and I thought this was a great comic, a nice little tone-setting capsule tale about rebirth (get it???) structured around Batman fighting a creepy new take on Calendar Man. Bonus: The inclusion of Duke Thomas, the engaging star of the too-soon-canceled We Are Robin. Double bonus: King and Janin have retained their proud tradition, established in Grayson, of gratuitously stripping their hero down to his skivvies for a scene. Phew!

Good for Newbies? Probably!
Good for Oldbies? You betcha.

green arrow rebirthGreen Arrow: Rebirth (Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt, Nate Piekos, and Juan E. Ferreyra)

You guys! You guys!!! Ollie’s back!!!!! Oliver Queen is one of my all-time favorite characters and I’ve found him to be borderline to entirely unrecognizable for nigh on a decade. Percy gives us the Ollie I’ve missed so long – indignant, impulsive, kind of a hypocrite, great with kids, comically terrible at maintaining a secret identity, and goateed – and Schmidt drenches his pencils in greens so lush you could drink ‘em. Throw in some classic Green Arrow/Black Canary action and I am officially On Board. One sole but major criticism: this storyline about the exploitation of the disenfranchised consists entirely of white, blond characters. Let’s get a more diverse cast up in here, shall we?

Good for Newbies? Yep!

green lanterns rebirthGreen Lanterns: Rebirth (Sam Humphries, Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Ed Benes, Jason Wright, and Travis Lanham)

I found this to be the most impenetrable of this week’s Rebirth titles, which isn’t a shock because the Green Lantern books have been marinating in their own mythology for like ten years at this point. Putting relative newbie Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz front and center at least makes this book not as overwhelmingly white as the rest of this week’s lineup, but don’t worry, Hal Jordan still shows up to be a patronizing jackass. There’s no attempt to sell me on the Lanterns’ endless space color politics, making this the book I’m least likely to keep reading after this Read All The Rebirth experiment.
Good for Newbies? Nah.
Good for Oldbies? And how!

superman rebirthSuperman: Rebirth (Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana, and Rob Leigh)

And this is the book that makes the biggest leap, straight-up replacing the recently-killed New 52 Superman with the pre-Flashpoint one, who snuck into this world along with Lois and their son Jon on the heels of last year’s Convergence. Most of the book is given over to standing around talking to Lana Lang; for action, we’re stuck with an inexplicable recap of the events of Death of Superman. Though I always like a positive take on Lana, this book mostly felt like it was spinning its wheels, and the anatomy’s a bit messy at times. I keep looking for a place to jump back on board with Superman, but so far Rebirth doesn’t seem to be it.
Good for Newbies? Eh.
Good for Oldbies? If you love 90s Superman, sure.

Final Thoughts:

This week gave us two great books and two lukewarm ones, which I honestly consider a pretty good balance. However, of those books, three star old white dude heroes – and more importantly, out of the 23 creators I’ve got listed up there, only one is a woman. Looking ahead at the month, that balance is gonna get a little better, but not by much. That’s a disappointing bit of same old, same old from DC. I’d also like to see the “Good for Newbies” score go up. Bring on Week Two!