Comics/Graphic Novels

Reading Through Rebirth: Week Two

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.

It’s Week Two of DC’s Rebirth! As I promised last week, I’m reading every Rebirth special and #1 issue to evaluate the don’t-call-it-a-reboot as a whole. We’ve got five new books this week, so let’s get into them!

action comics 957Action Comics #957 (Dan Jurgens, Patrick Zircher, Tomeu Morey, and Rob Leigh)

Sigh. Zircher’s art is beautiful and I love Morey’s sunny colors here – very classic Superman, very Metropolis! – but for a book that features Lex Luthor in a super-suit and two surprise guest stars, I found this book to be kind of a snooze. Like last week’s Superman: Rebirth, there’s too much standing around talking and too many callbacks to Death of Superman. Also, Lois is given absolutely nothing to do, though it was nice to see Maggie Sawyer. Let’s get some action in Action, DC!

Good for Newbies? There’s enough exposition (honestly, too much) that it’s not hard to follow.
Good for Oldbies? If you love 90s Superman, yeah.

aquaman rebirthAquaman: Rebirth (Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Oscar Jimenez, Mark Morales, Gabe Eltaeb, and Pat Brosseau)

I admit I haven’t read much Aquaman, but helpfully, this comic is basically a painstaking introduction to his whole deal: lots of narration delineating his personality, history, and powers set against some lovely seascapes. It’s a bit dry, though, if you’ll forgive the pun, and spends way too much time insisting that Aquaman is Cool and Tough when everyone knows the best version is Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s “outrageous!” take. Mera makes this the second book in a row this week that gives the hero’s wife nothing to do but stand loyally in the background, and since the DCU: Rebirth special gave Jackson “Aqualad” Hyde a brief spotlight I’m not sure why this book features boring ol’ Tempest instead.

Good for Newbies? Absolutely!
Good for Oldbies? Sure, why not?

detective comics 934Detective Comics #934 (James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, and Marilyn Patrizio)

YOU GUYS. You guys! “Batman asks Kate Kane to help him train Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and Clayface” was always going to get my attention, but I was unprepared for how perfect this book would be. It’s like a love letter to every character involved, showcasing them at their very best with breathtaking efficiency while also giving new readers a tidy little introduction to each of them. Kate in particular gets a long-overdue chance to shine, and I am SO HERE for a gruff female mentor for once. If you’ve been missing Batwoman or the 90s Batkids interacting, your prayers have been answered. (P.S. Check out Katie’s full review here!)

Good for Newbies? Yes!
Good for Oldbies? YES!!!

flash rebirthFlash: Rebirth (Joshua Williamson, Carmini Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, and Steve Wands)

This book makes a little bit of an odd choice, as the first half could be lifted right out of the TV show, while the second half is neck deep in the overarching Rebirth plotline with Wally and the Watchmen characters and so on. I’m not really sure who it’s for, to be honest – it’s neither a jumping on point nor a return to form. I guess people who just want to follow the DCU story as a whole? At least the art is fantastic.

Good for Newbies? Definitely not.
Good for Oldbies? Sure?

wonder woman rebirthWonder Woman: Rebirth (Greg Rucka, Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, Liam Sharp, Jeremy Colwell, Laura Martin, and Jodi Wynne)

Rucka’s a widely acclaimed Wonder Woman scribe, and he starts his eagerly anticipated return to the character with an interestingly meta tale of Diana trying to puzzle out her many conflicting reboots and origins. It’s an elegantly told story that seems to promise a return to a Diana her longtime fans will love, but by virtue of its conceit it’s pretty impenetrable if you’re not at least passingly familiar with her most recent couple of reboots. The art change halfway through is worrying, too; both teams are good, but it’s early days to need pinch hitters already.
Good for Newbies? Oh my no.
Good for Oldbies? You betcha!

Final Thoughts:

This week gave me one book I loved, one I’m cautiously intrigued by, and three that I found to be, well, fine. We’re still firmly in classic (straight, white) character territory, though Detective adds some minimal diversity to the roster with three female leads, one queer and one non-white (plus Wonder Woman, of course). Out of the 26 credited creators up there, three are female, and the art is overwhelmingly DC house style, though well done across the board. If you’re looking for shakeups, so far Rebirth doesn’t seem to be the place for it. Let’s see what Week Three brings!