By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Rebirth is upon us. And we’re on board for the change that’s to come.

You know the score by now: brand-new debuts, all-new creative teams, and best of all? Competitive cover prices. At $2.99 a pop, DC Comics has all but rolled out the red carpet for every kind of reader there is: new, lapsed, or die-hard. So in the third week of Rebirth, we’re soldering ahead with our new limited series — REBIRTH IN REVIEW — where we’ll evaluate the latest batch of debuts from the publisher to see what, precisely, is what.

Oh, and to provide you extra incentive to check out all these new books, we’ve included galleries of preview images from each issue alongside its respective review. We’ve embraced change! Let’s see if DC has too.

WEEK 4

AC_Cv958_dsAction Comics #958

Written by Dan Jurgens.

Art by Patrick Zircher. 

Colors by Ulises Arreola.

Letters by Rob Leigh. 

JJ: Would it be trite of me to say that Action Comics is living up to its name by applying disorienting chaos to its first Post-Rebirth storyarc? What? Yes? What the hell else am I supposed to say? If you’re looking for depth and nuance in your Superman books, I’d suggest to you Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman and be done with it.

It’s all in the name, friend. Action Comics #958, the second issue of Action to hit stands this month, isn’t paving a new path for every type of reader to hop on so much as it’s decimating all that dares stand in its way. A cynical reader would say that Dan Jurgens is tossing in Doomsday, arguably the writer’s favored pet steer, into the fracas right out of the gate of his Action run to lure in lapsed readers ready for the Triangle-numbered Super-books of old. Maybe they’re right. But Jurgens is also weaving a mystery here (who is that guy in the green cloak?); considering that the ongoing Superman books are functioning as cohesively now as they have in years, I’m all in for the duration — superficial stunts be damned.

Patrick Zircher’s contributions are detailed enough to be involving (especially during the bits involving Lois Lane and Jon Kent — or is it still White?), but not brawny enough to feel the utter severity that Doomsday’s presence would otherwise demand. If Jurgens and Brett Breeding’s Superman #75 is what we’re harkening back to so soon after we were promised change with this Rebirth, then both the writer and artist should be held to that example. Neither recreate that imminent feeling of dread. (Even though we’re left recounting the emotions that came with this Superman’s last moments through the still-vivid memories of his fretting wife, which — Lois needs a new job at the Planet, people.)

Action Comics #958 continues to intrigue me in the superficial ways most Superman books intrigue me. But only just. A point to all this wanton doom is likely around the corner, and for Jurgens’ sake, I hope that point includes Lex Luthor — advertised as the star of this show. Right now, Luthor’s glaring presence is just getting in the way, and I’m almost certain that’s beside the point.

6.5 out of 10

AQM_Cv1_dsAquaman #1

Written by Dan Abnett.

Art by Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessey.

Colors by Gabe Eltaeb. 

Letters by Pat Brosseau. 

JJ: I’m betrothed to the king of Atlantis, Arthur. I don’t get nervous,” Mera says to Aquaman after a night of visibly satisfying coitus. And wouldn’t you know it? Not only does she never get nervous, she knows how to work a Mr. Coffee. Here she comes with a steaming cup of java, made for her man while he was too busy smirking from a balcony at the Thames oceans before him. Are these people meant to be seen as royalty? Confused as posh residents of Chelsea? Both?

I don’t know what to make of Dan Abnett’s Aquaman. I’m not sure Dan Abnett knows what to make of Dan Abnett’s Aquaman. There’s lip service paid to the still incomplete bridge between land and sea dwellers, which might explain why we’re allowed a salacious glimpse into Arthur and Mera’s basic-ass “let’s have some coffee and enjoy our morning like the humans” sequence in the first place. But I’ll be damned if any of it resonates beyond the “wait and see” method of story Abnett has laid out before us. Most of the iconic members of Arthur Curry’s world are on hand for this debut issue, but if you’re stumbling into this series with little to go on, you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering why Khal Drogo has been assigned to this character instead of, say, virtually anyone else.

Brad Walker’s pencils, combined with Andrew Hennessey’s inks, evoke memories of early Image Comics offerings from equally in-sync artists like Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane, while at the same time reminding me of the chunky line work of Freddie Williams III. The art is an odd fit for Aquaman, but it’s close enough to former Aquaman artist Jim Calafiore that you don’t mind it so much. It’s Joshua Middleton’s ethereal variant to Aquaman #1 that’s more in line with what I might expect DC Comics would want from Aquaman at this juncture — there is a series of movies on their way to consider, after all. But everything in between the covers is just more the same, tired schtick.

5.5 out of 10

DTC_Cv935_dsDetective Comics #935

Written by James Tynion IV.

Art by Eddy Barrows; inks by Eber Ferreira.

Colors by Adriano Lucas.

Letters by Marilyn Patrizio.

JJ: What was is again in James Tynion’s Detective Comics. If you’ve been reading Batman books all your life, if you’re still in your early thirties or late twenties, odds are you’re going to find something — or, more specifically, someone — to love in this book.

That’s easy to accomplish when you have a murderer’s row of elite Bat-family members populating your book: Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake and Kate Kane? That’s not a royal flush; that’s an embarrassment of riches.

And yet Tynion acquits himself well with his cast of Detective. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. James Tynion IV has been writing Batman as long as he’s been writing comics (few would be so lucky), and his skill has grown in lockstep with his comfort within Gotham City. So as far as characterization goes? With those characters I know you love so well? This is the Bat-book you’ve been waiting for.

And it’s a beaut. Eddy Barrows’ work on Martian Manhunter was easily some of the more impressive displays I saw during DC’s #DCYou initiative, and the artist’s notable strengths — fluid action, moments of quiet grace, big-ass capes — are on full display here. Inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas know precisely how to approach Barrows’ pencils, and the finished product isn’t fine-tuned sequential art so much as it is friggin’ witchcraft. I haven’t felt the angry grit and operatic majesty of Gotham City in an ongoing Bat-book this thoroughly in years.

I suppose this is where I’d gripe that Batman’s mystery army, with the vaguely sinister moniker, The Colony, is visually little more than a force of Arkham Knights armed with an array of Nolanesque Tumblers, but I’m still too smitten with the solid work and impressive juggling at play here. Hell, I’m sure that before long, even Clayface’s perplexing presence will begin to prove its worth. Or, at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

8 out of 10

FLS_Cv1_dsThe Flash #1

Written by Joshua Williamson.

Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico. 

Colors by Ivan Plascencia. 

Letters by Steve Wands. 

MJ: Eight new series’ have debuted since the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot was released (which has already gone into its third ding-dang printing) but the new Flash series is the book that’s most directly related to it. Both the Flash: Rebirth #1 and now The Flash #1 explicitly mention the one-shot’s plot (with a captioned editor’s reminder to read it, natch), but the new series is more concerned with establishing its own status quo (as it should be) than with chasing after blood-smeared smiley-face buttons.

The issue itself is very dense, abounding with introductions of characters both old and new. It still functions well as a jumping-on point for the character, even with so much crammed in. Jitters (the coffee shop frequently visited on the CW’s Flash series) makes an appearance, and the rest of this issue will feel extremely accessible to readers only familiar with the character through television. Writer Joshua Williamson’s grasp (and love of) the characters is unmistakable, but the plot could definitely use more room to breathe.

Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art and Ivan Plascencia’s colors have the dynamism and energy to successfully illustrate the Fastest Man Alive. Plascencia colors the Speed Force lightning in vibrant neons, giving panels amazing motion with white-hot speed-lines that blur and crackle. The layouts offer great movement and excitement, most notably near the end as Barry is trying to save a friend from a speeding bullet. A promising start to a series barreling towards intriguing destinations.

8 out of 10

WW Cv1_dsWonder Woman #1

Written by Greg Rucka.

Art by Liam Sharp.

Colors by Laura Martin.

Letters by Jodi Wynne.

MJ: Wonder Woman #1 is a triumphant return to form for the book and character. Artist Liam Sharp’s eye for detail immerses the reader immediately: from the creepy, towering bone structures within Cheetah’s domain, to the little gold “e” painted onto Etta Candy’s manicured thumbnail, to the well-rendered and researched military sequences. Laura Martin’s coloring is richly suited to Sharp’s style, and she brings warmth and depth to the proceedings, especially the outdoor scenes.

While probably attribute it to little more than growing pains on his first full issue in the series, I noticed some inconsistencies in Sharp’s visual presentation of Diana. At points her hair is wavy, at others straight; in some panels she looks tiny and petite while in others like she could strangle two Cheetah acolytes simultaneously (which she totally does). Sharp is otherwise excellent in his layouts, design, and expressions, and his grasp of the characters is solid (Diana’s variations notwithstanding).

Writer Greg Rucka gives Wonder Woman’s sentences an almost poetic cadence, returning a gravitas and confidence to the character that’s been noticeably missing for some time. Though unsure and seeking help from an unlikely source, she still comes across as capable, determined, and intelligent. (It’s strange that those basic traits would be so laudable, but remember this character has been languishing in creative hell for a while). Action and character introduction is perfectly balanced, and the issue’s story and its intentions are well set – all excellently paced for both new and returning readers. Wonder Woman is definitely a stand-out in DC’s latest initiative, an elegantly nuanced return to greatness.

9 out of 10

‘Rebirth’, reviewed elsewhere — 

A New Era For DC Begins In Earnest With ‘DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH’ #1

Stop Whatever It Is You’re Doing And Read ‘BATMAN: REBIRTH’ #1

REBIRTH IN REVIEW: We Take DC’s New Era Head On 

REBIRTH IN REVIEW: Optimism Is Coming, But The New 52 Is Still Too Near

Agree? Disagree? Are you reading ‘Rebirth’? Tell us all about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.

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