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.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1
Written by Robert Venditti.
Art by Ethan Van Sciver.
Colors by Jason Wright.
Letters by Dave Sharpe.
Variant cover by Cary Nord.
MJ: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth starts off in similar fashion to the much-maligned Green Lantern film, with disembodied, exposition-heavy narration over a galactic panorama. That’s assumedly not a parallel the creators were aiming for, and thankfully the comic does improve afterwards. (A little.) There are similarities with Superman: Rebirth #1 in that it functions more fully as an epilogue to the previous story than as the commencement of anything substantially new. Hopefully the first issue of the actual series will be (as Superman #1 ended up being) a perfect starting point in itself.
Writer Robert Venditti certainly tries to hit all the sweet spots within the beloved Johns-era canon, but can’t seem to reach the same depth of character. (At least Hal seems to have ditched that ridiculous trenchcoat-over-hoodie look.) Throughout, artist Ethan Van Sciver’s anatomy occasionally looks a bit wonky, but his rendering is still on point, and the entire issue looks much better (and nowhere near as rushed) as last month’s Green Lanterns: Rebirth.
Thankfully GLC doesn’t also include another Van Sciver-pencilled upskirt-shot of Wonder Woman, although the first couple pages heavily feature Yellow Lantern Lyssa’s generous décolletage, and she’s the only female character in the issue with dialogue more than a single balloon (“AAGGH!”, if that counts as a word, in Lantern Jessica Cruz’s case, and “…Hal?” in Carol’s; Wonder Woman’s short appearance in the four-page centerfold Snickers ad was more meaty.)
Jason Wright’s colors complement the intricate line art extremely well; between this issue and the DCU Rebirth one-shot, this is the best Van Sciver’s art has looked in a long time. DC has now done their Rebirth-best in returning Hal Jordan to an extremely recognizable status quo (with the same artist drawing him, natch); now perhaps the following series can truly make a start of something interesting.
6.5 out of 10
New Super-Man #1
Written by Gene Luen Yang.
Art by Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend.
Colors by Hi-Fi.
Letters by Dave Sharpe.
Variant cover by Bernard Chang.
BSun: Gene Luen Yang didn’t come up with the idea of a Chinese Superman. A quick walk through Chinatown is all it takes to glimpse the long tradition of thinly veiled and often hilariously bad knockoffs of Western pop culture that come from Asia. Nevertheless, creating a literal living imitation and placing him in the actual DC Universe is an inspired move rife with storytelling potential and post-modern commentary. That Yang is able to take this concept and play it more or less straight is a testament to his ambition and thoughtfulness.
That’s not to say New Super-Man isn’t in on the joke. Everything from the awkward hyphen in the title to the less-than-heroic introduction of protagonist Kong Kenan lets us know we’re dealing with an inferior replica of the Man of Steel. In an era of perpetual reboots that often seem to place press releases before storytelling, it’s refreshing to see a book that is so proudly irreverent with its premise.
Joining in on the fun is penciller Viktor Bogdanovic. His character designs are bold and varied, reminiscent of the scrappy biker punks of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. Combined with Richard Friend’s inks and Hi-Fi’s coloring, it gives the book a well-suited, loose and playful energy.
There is one minor nitpick that deserves mention. About half the time, Kenan has these distracting triangle-shaped eyes that look just a little bit off. It’s nothing that approaches WWII propaganda levels of caricature, but it seems there’s still this out-of-touch need in Western comics for obvious signifiers to tell us when characters are, well, not white. To put it bluntly, Bogdanovic hasn’t quite figured out how to draw Asians. (In fairness, drawing superhero comics hasn’t traditionally afforded the opportunity for much practice.) It’s something that will hopefully improve as the art team becomes more comfortable with their cast of characters.
New Super-Man #1 forces a lot of story into a small amount of pages, but its meta commentary, poking fun at manufactured relaunches and status quo changes, allows the reader to accept Kenan’s otherwise conveniently contrived origin story as part of the gag. (“It’s supposed to be unbelievable and clichéd. Get it?”) It works for now, but hopefully won’t be abused as a crutch to prop up thin storytelling as the series continues. Ultimately, this first issue delivers on its clever conceit, mixing the right amount of subversion with its superhero tropes to create an engaging and lively debut.
7.5 out of 10
Nightwing: Rebirth #1
Written by Tim Seeley.
Art by Yanick Paquette.
Colors by Nathan Fairbairn.
Letters by Carlos Mangual.
Variant cover by Babs Tarr.
JJ: Dick Grayson is everybody’s older brother. He’s cool. He’s confident. He says the right things at the right times, and he always picks up the tab. You always want to know more about his private life, but you never pry too much — doing so would be like flying too close to the sun. You’re never prepared for the aura that surrounds Dick Grayson. There’s no one quite like him. And now, in a way, he’s back.
Dick hasn’t been a Robin since the Eighties, and DC’s latest experiment in character longevity, Grayson, only cemented the point that Dick Grayson can endure in any environment, survive any master plan, and always comes out on top with that cocky grin on his face. He survives because he was born to, whirling around the air from an alarmingly early age without a single thought dedicated to how he’d land afterwards. Robin, Agent 37, Batman — the codename never matters, because when those boots finally do touch the ground, it’s Dick Grayson who sticks the landing.
And for the longest time, I haven’t seen a writer understand the fundamentals of the character more thoroughly than Tim Seeley. His work on Grayson (co-written with new Batman writer Tom King) has consistently been a highlight in a sea of generally underwhelming superhero yarns. Seeley gives Dick Grayson a vitality not common for a character that’s been around for 70+ years, and Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is about as vital a Rebirth one-shot you’re likely to find.
Teamed with Yanick Paquette, who already gave 2016 the absolutely stunning Wonder Woman: Earth One and would be totally excused if he just took the rest of the year off, Seeley ratchets through this loving epilogue to his Grayson run, never once letting any sequence linger for too long, or letting any of his guest stars shine more brightly than his leading man. Paquette cinches the character elements because of course he does; the moments shared between Dick and his former partner Damian Wayne are sweet and well-earned, and the nigh-obligatory Midnighter cameo is just as hilarious as you’d want it to be.
It’s no wonder that Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is such a seemingly effortless and downright entertaining issue. If there was ever a character more suited to the concept of revitalization and renewal, it’s definitely Dick Grayson. Now go buy ten copies.
9 out of 10
‘Rebirth’, reviewed elsewhere —
Agree? Disagree? Are you reading ‘Rebirth’? Tell us all about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.