The New DC 52, Week 4 (Wonder WomanBatman, Catwoman and more) 

The New DC 52, Week 4 (Wonder WomanBatman, Catwoman and more) 

DC has embarked on the radical step of revamping its entire line of comics, rolling out 52 first issues beginning with Justice League on Aug. 31. Some are new titles. Some restart long-running titles like Detective Comics and Superman. Some promise new concepts, while others offer new takes on old characters. Oliver Sava and Keith Phipps are reading and discussing all of them each week as part of an ongoing Crosstalk. Up this week: 13 new titles including Batman and Wonder Woman.


Wonder Woman #1
Keith Phipps: For an icon, Wonder Woman is a pretty ill-defined character. She’s not an alien fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way in her adopted land or a brooding, vengeance-driven supergenius out to terrify crime off the streets. She’s played a lot of different roles over the decades, including some head-spinning redefinitions in the last few years alone. Novelist Jodi Picoult—in a truly terrible arc—turned her into a naïve doofus and J. Michael Straczynski recently reinvented her as an urban warrior. Or something. (It was kind of hard to tell, to be honest.) One of the problems with Wonder Woman is that—unlike Superman or Batman—it’s hard to hit the reset button with the character. Returning to her roots means returning to the barely veiled S&M fantasies and peculiarly personal utopian vision of her creator William Moulton Marston, who saw her as a herald to an imminently arriving matriarchy that would bring in a new age of peace, prosperity, and cheerful submission.

Writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have their work cut out for them with this first issue, in other words. I’m not sure I have a good sense of who Wonder Woman is after reading this issue, but I do know I want to read more of their Wonder Woman. Azzarello has said he’s approaching Wonder Woman as a horror comic, and this first chapter is certainly grim enough, opening as it does with a centaur-creating horse decapitation. What follows can’t easily be characterized. A woman unwittingly finds herself as a pawn in some so-far vague conflict between gods and turns to Wonder Woman (or “Diana,” as she prefers to be called here) for help.

Though I’m not quite sure what’s happening yet, I really liked this issue. I’ve had a hard time sticking with Azzarello in the past, but I’ve come to think I haven’t been patient enough. But even if I hated the writing, Chiang’s art—expressive, beautifully unfussy, and given a creepy, autumnal glow by Matthew Wilson’s colors—would make me pick this up. Plus, his Diana looks like Wonder Woman ought to look: beautiful, intimidating, and just a little larger than life.

Oliver Sava: I think Azzarello tends to reread better than the first go-round (readers of 100 Bullets know what I mean), because he doesn’t explain everything explicitly in the script. Once I remembered the connection between oracles and Apollo in Greek mythology, the opening sequence with Apollo and the three women on a roof made more sense to me. I’m seeing sexual imagery in everything after reading Catwoman, but Azzarello actually uses it pretty well in this issue. When Apollo touches the women, they moan and lift off the ground, dropping champagne flutes that spill their sparkling contents across a Singapore skyline. Before using hallucinogenic drugs, ancient priestesses received oracular visions through orgasm, and Apollo has the magic touch. The last panel of the issue mirrors the falling champagne flutes, but the smooth crystal and golden liquid are replaced by burning bones, emphasizing the connection between sex and danger that runs throughout the story.

As you mentioned, there have always been erotic undertones to Wonder Woman, and Azzarello doesn’t shy away from sexuality in his story; he just does it with sophistication. There are phalli flying all over the place—arrows, scythes, swords, bones, keys—while Wonder Woman is armed with a lasso, a weapon that doesn’t penetrate, but wraps around. Wonder Woman’s first course of action is protecting her charge from an arrow, leaping in its path and shattering it against her silver bracelets. It’s a symbolic image that shows how Wonder Woman stands against traditional ideas of gender, but it would probably be stronger if she were wearing pants. It helps that Chiang’s art isn’t exploitative, but this is still an issue focusing on two women in their underwear. I’m looking forward to more from this team, especially as future issues look to expand on Diana’s history. It’s a different direction for Wonder Woman, but one still steeped in mythology, and I think this is the start of great things from Azzarello and Chiang.


Batman #1
OS: Scott Snyder did great work with Dick Grayson as Batman, and I fully expected him to do the same with Bruce Wayne. Unsurprisingly, Batman #1 is fantastic. In my Batman: The Animated Series write-ups, I talk a lot about what makes a good episode, and three elements tend to be consistent across the best stories: a connection between Bruce Wayne’s personal life and Batman’s actions, an intriguing villain with a thought-out backstory, and strong animation. All three apply here, with Greg Capullo turning in artwork that falls somewhere between Bruce Timm and Todd McFarlane, and Snyder packing his story with information about the characters and the city, but never sacrificing action or character for exposition.

Most of Batman’s rogues make an appearance during the opening fight scene in Arkham (I spy James Gordon, Jr. in there), Dick, Tim, and Damien show up for a benefit, we get some suggestion that Alfred isn’t a hologram, and the issue ends with a grisly crime where the evidence points to one of Bruce’s closest allies. It looks like we have a mystery on our hands, something that is surprisingly absent from so many Bat-titles. The narration has Batman contemplating a Gotham Gazette feature called “Gotham Is,” where people complete the title sentence with three words, and it’s insightful and expertly utilized. Narration is layered on action, adding depth to the fight scenes, then disappears when the dialogue takes over. Snyder knows how to use the comic-book medium, and he puts a lot of faith in his artistic collaborator Capullo, who makes a stunning debut at DC.

If all the text were stripped from the page, Capullo’s art would still hit every major story point of the issue, which is a feat when the script is as dense as Snyder’s. The action is clear, quick, and brutal, and Capullo’s exaggerated linework creates an impressive sense of movement. The scenes with Bruce Wayne show off Capullo’s skill with facial expressions and body language, and the white page borders work to give the benefit sequence an optimistic tone that eventually gives way to black when Batman has to get back to work. The ending promises an emphasis on Dick Grayson in future issues, and while Kyle Higgins is doing great work Nightwing (see below), it will be nice to see Snyder do more work with the character. I don’t think you read Snyder’s Detective Comics, Keith. Were you as impressed with Batman as I was?

Keith Phipps: Very much so. Somehow Snyder’s early Detective issues got by me. I read one issue in the middle of the run, which left me very impressed and wanting to read everything else when it came out in trade. When Batman, staring at a wall in a room where Harvey Bullock has discovered a body says, “That smell is linseed oil. A common paint thinner. But the intensity is too strong”… that’s the Batman I want to read. So, yes, I loved this issue. And you’re right about Capullo’s art when you describe it as somewhere between Timm and MacFarlane. Those two extremes seem like they could never meet, but he makes it work. Snyder knows these characters, sets up an intriguing mystery, and delivers some action that Capullo realizes stunningly. This is definitely in the top rank of the revamp for me.

Catwoman #1
KP: Ed Brubaker’s work on Catwoman in the early ’00s is one of my favorite comic-book runs of recent years. It was also a bit of a salvage operation. For much of the ’90s, Catwoman’s book had been an embarrassing bit of soft porn masquerading as a superhero book. Jim Balent drew her as an acrobat with volleyballs smuggled in her costume. It aimed low but it found an audience, at least for a while. Well, the ’90s are back!

Writer Judd Winick is, to say the least, a variable talent. I rarely love his work, but I often like it. (Batwing, released two weeks ago, is a typically solid effort that could develop into an even more interesting title or trail off into nothing. With Winick, it’s often hard to tell.) But I’ve never hated a Winick book before this. And I hate this book from the cover down, starting with the font used for the title, which subs in some cat scratches for the “w” in “Catwoman” above an image of Selina Kyle spilling out of a jump suit as she drips diamonds on herself. (She’s even removed her boots because, hey, a gal likes a little comfort when she’s luxuriating with precious jewels.)

Then the actual book begins, in which Catwoman, led by her cleavage, gathers up her pet cats as she flees her apartment then swings high above Gotham with the cats in a cat carrier with its door open. Was this written and drawn by people who have never actually encountered a cat? But then, the book isn’t really about cats. Or about Catwoman, honestly. It’s about squeezing a lot of lurid sex and violence into the barest outline of a plot. By issue’s end, Catwoman has gone undercover to seduce a Russian gangster and fucked Batman. (The last line of their sex scene gives the issue it’s title: “…and most of the costumes stay on…”) Mostly I felt like I was reading fan fiction with a production budget this issue.

I hated this book (even though it’s not my least-favorite of the week). DC took, and continues to take, a lot of flack for not working with more female creators in the New 52. I don’t want to argue that female creators could handle female characters better than male creators, because that sort of argument leads only to madness—even if there might be something to it. But DC definitely has a female problem of another kind. (Not that other publishers don’t, but we’re not talking about them.) The company could have used the New 52 to draw a line in the sand and emphasize strong female characters that were treated as something other than vamps or sex objects. It’s done that with some titles, sure: Birds Of Prey, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl are examples from just this week. But this feels like a throwback to an earlier, more wank-encouraging age.

OS: Let’s dissect the first four panels of this book:

  1. Catwoman’s breasts fall into frame. She is putting on her leather catsuit. There is a white object floating in mid-air, covering part of her left breast, that could either be a sock or a used condom. “Wardrobe.”
  2. Catwoman is putting her clawed leather glove on with her teeth. A high-heel flies through the air. An assortment of her panties can be seen on the floor. Leather, shoes, and panty fetishes: check. “Mittens.”
  3. Catwoman is squatting, because that is how people get dressed. She has also knocked everything off her table to find her cell phone. One of her breasts is still not inside her catsuit. A pair of bras fall off the table (Selina doesn’t believe in dressers) as well as a bottle of wine, liquid dripping from its mouth. “Talkie-talk.”
  4. A basket full of kittens. “Babies.”

I couldn’t make that up if I tried. It’s a bunch of gratuitous images surrounded by cliché narration about risk and painfully stupid dialogue. One thing this issue succeeded in doing was making me appreciate Batwing a hell of a lot more, because this is Judd Winick at his worst. I loved Brubaker’s run on Catwoman, and this issue is just a disgrace to the character. This book has “Women In Refrigerators” written all over it, throwing in a vague flashback to Selina watching a friend get assaulted (probably sexually) so that she can take down the attacker later in the issue. At DC, the first step to female empowerment is victimization. Guillem March is a great artist that can’t control his libido, and I’d love to see him on a book that isn’t primarily cheesecake. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon under the current DC regime. I do have a morbid curiosity to see just how bad this book can get, but that’s probably not what DC had in mind. 

Supergirl #1
OS: An extended action sequence with a lot of expository narration layered on top, this issue would be much stronger if writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson remembered to show, not tell. How much more interesting would this issue have been if we got to see what Kara’s life was like on Krypton before getting suddenly whisked away to Earth? I shouldn’t judge the book for what it isn’t, but it feels like a missed opportunity to me, especially considering Mahmud Asrar’s artistic talent. The writers have said they’re writing this book for the Hunger Games crowd, but those books made us care about the character by showing what her life was before the chaos, not just throwing her into an arena and narrating her past. This is the perfect opportunity to show life on Krypton from a teenage girl’s point of view, which would be something new and exciting, but instead we get Kara fighting robots in the Siberian tundra. As unfortunate as Supergirl’s costume is (the splash of red on her crotch is Superawkward), Asrar turns in smooth art strongly reminiscent of Mark Bagley; I just wish he had more to draw than things hitting each other. I do like the voice of Green and Johnson’s Kara, and I’m interested in seeing where the series goes, but this first issue didn’t do much for me.

KP: Huh. I’m surprised it left you cold, because I liked this book quite a bit. It’s easily my third favorite this week after Batman and Superman. I think you’re falling into the trap Gene Siskel used to fall into by judging the book based on what you wanted to get rather than what we got. We never saw Supergirl’s life on Krypton, but the character’s voice is so strong I felt like I knew who she was and what kind of world she came from. Landing on Earth and thinking she’s dreaming, her first worry is what her mother would think of her wearing clothes she’s not supposed to wear until she graduates before adding, “If I graduate.” (And I like the costume redesign, which reminds me of her late-’70s/early-’80s gear. Frankly, I’m just happy that she now seems to have a correctly proportioned torso, a believable number of ribs, and looks like she’s had a meal lately.) And, sure, the issue’s one long, exposition-heavy fight scene, but Asrar’s art sold the action and the script by Michael Green and Mike Johnson sold the exposition. Unlike Superman, who grew up here, Supergirl has landed somewhere she not only doesn’t know but most likely will not want to stay. I want to see where her story takes her.

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Birds Of Prey #1
OS: I loved Gail Simone’s initial run on Birds Of Prey, and while I enjoyed her most recent return to the title, it was bogged down in crossover crap and inconsistent art much of the time. Crime novelist Duane Swierczynski takes over DC’s premier female superteam, and I’m proud to bestow upon him the award for Least Despicable Portrayal Of Women In A DC Book this week. They aren’t hyper-sexualized, they don’t have any reliance on men, and their gender never becomes an issue in their crime-fighting. Even the midriffs are kept to a minimum, although new character Starling just can’t help herself later in the issue. The plot follows a reporter investigating the Birds, who are actually using him as bait to track down the people who are trying to kill him. Black Canary is a criminal on the run, wanted for “murdering a man with a punch,” trying to clear her name while assembling a team to help people in need. Barbara Gordon shows up to decline the offer, recommending Katana’s services while dropping hints about their shared history with Ev “Starling” Crawford. Swierczynski doesn’t rush this issue, and there’s a good balance of action and backstory, dropping just enough information to keep my interest piqued for the next issue. Jesus Saiz debuted on Birds Of Prey this summer, and he’s a great fit for these characters, drawing realistically proportioned women that aren’t overly sexualized. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and with Barbara Gordon coming back in #4 (hopefully as a new member of the team), I’ll be sticking around for at least the first six issues.

KP: Birds Of Prey is one of those books I suspect I’d enjoy if I read it more regularly, but I’ve never made it a habit. As a new reader, I think I would have liked this more if it provided an easier introduction to the main players and their mission. Black Canary I know, but who is Starling? Also, who funds this team? What are they up against? That aside, I got swept up into the big, superhero espionage action fairly easily and the finale took me by surprise. (Did that guy have the same bleeding-eye disease as Animal Man? I think I’ve been reading too many comics this month.)

Green Lantern Corps #1
OS: This is better than Peter Tomasi’s recent Emerald Warriors series, but not as good as his original Green Lantern Corps run with Patrick Gleason. If you’ve been following Tomasi’s run on Guy Gardner and pals, there will plenty to like here, and it appears to be distanced from the heavier continuity of the other Lantern books. The issue begins with Green Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart struggling to live ordinary lives on Earth, and just that little bit of normalcy helps bring the story to a more real place. The book falls into the same trap as many of the other first issues, relying on shocking violence to bring weight to the plot, but there’s at least a little character development. There has to be a way to make someone a threat other than having him commit mass genocide and extensive dismemberment, because with each new decapitation I’m beginning to care less and less. Fernando Pasarin’s art is detailed and has lost some of the stiffness of his earlier work, with richer alien worlds and more exotic Lantern designs. It’s not any sort of relaunch, but those who enjoy Tomasi’s work on the Corps will like what this issue has to offer.

KP: I’ve said before that Green Lantern isn’t really my thing even though I recognize and respect that there are good stories being told in the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe, and that Geoff Johns and others have expanded and deepened the Green Lantern world over the last few years. This didn’t really change that for me. Stewart and Gardner are well-developed characters and pair up nicely as a kind of buddy-cop team. This was an enjoyable-enough read, but it didn’t make a convert out of me.

Nightwing #1
KP: One thing I like about Dick Grayson: He’s been Batman, he was a pretty good Batman (and the source of some pretty terrific Batman stories), but he doesn’t want to be Batman. He wants to be himself, an acrobatic, mystery-solving crimefighter-about-town named Nightwing. Kyle Higgins (who’s also writing Deathstroke) has a solid sense of Dick’s voice and puts it front-and-center in his initial Nightwing outing. Maybe a little too front and center. There’s a lot of narration in this book, but honestly, I’ll take an issue that’s a little too user-friendly than one that expects readers to catch up. Here, Nightwing has to take on a mysterious assassin—one after Dick Grayson, no less—as the circus to which Grayson used to belong rolls into town. Could the two developments be related? Probably, sure, but Higgins displays an assured command of pacing and character, and the art by Eddy Barrows is striking, with dynamic action and rich detail. This is meat-and-potatoes superhero stuff, but a satisfying plate of meat and potatoes nonetheless.

OS: You’re right that there’s a lot of narration, but I didn’t find it overbearing and thought it was used similarly to Snyder in Batman. I like the idea that Dick Grayson feels more comfortable in the Nightwing persona; it makes Dick less of a future Bruce replacement and more of his own character. Bringing back the circus is a great way to incorporate Dick’s past into the story, and it introduces a supporting cast that offers a lot of storytelling potential. I loved the clown bitching about wearing a green wig in Gotham City and the gags about Dick’s hair, and seeing Dick back on the trapeze was a much more emotional moment than I expected it to be. Barrows has been growing with each new project, and his artwork is fluid and moody while still retaining a sense of fun and excitement. The new villain design is a little too extreme with the Wolverine claws, but I do like that he’s hunting down Dick and not Nightwing. It’s absurd that the villain doesn’t make the connection between Dick and his costumed alter ego that appears seconds after Dick disappears, but that’s one of those superhero conventions that we just have to accept.

Blue Beetle #1
OS: Instead of spending $2.99 a month reading about Jamie Reyes adjusting to his new life as Blue Beetle, I am going to walk 10 feet to my comic longboxes and read an entire series about Jaime Reyes adjusting to his new life as Blue Beetle, because it came out five years ago. This is a character that doesn’t need another origin story, but here’s one anyway, and it’s basically the same. The scarab turns whoever wears it into a member of the Reach, a kind of intergalactic army that subdues entire planets, forcing its agents to destroy their home worlds against their wills. It’s a cool concept, especially when the scarab latches on to a hormonal teenager, but it’s all been done already. Recently. And it was really good. If readers of Jaime’s old series already know who Brenda’s aunt really is, it’s not going to be a very suspenseful plot line. This isn’t a bad issue, and the art by Ig Guara is clean and attractive; it just feels unnecessary. Those unfamiliar with Jamie Reyes will probably enjoy the book, but the character doesn’t have enough history to merit a reset.

KP: To be fair, not enough people did read that series, which is why we’re getting a total restart, I would imagine. I read a couple of issues and liked it—though obviously not enough to become a regular reader—but this Blue Beetle is otherwise relatively unfamiliar to me. This felt like a decent start to the series. Jaime’s an appealing lead and we don’t often see superhero books starring Hispanic kids in El Paso, which gives it some novelty while helping DC’s push to feature a more diverse array of characters. If you’re not bothered by deja vu, I suspect you’ll like this book.

Legion Of Super-Heroes #1
KP: Apart from the Mark Waid-scripted run a few years ago, I’ve never read a Legion Of Super-Heroes book that didn’t feel as if it should come with footnotes, and this one’s no exception. This first issue references the even-more-confusing Legion Lost and, I gather, follows pretty directly from what Paul Levitz was doing with the title before Flashpoint. (Like Legion Lost, it directly references Flashpoint, suggesting that only Legion characters know about the event.) Legion has long been a cult phenomenon with a small, vocal following. I would assume that anyone enjoying Levitz’s run before Flashpoint will enjoy this. As a point of entry, however, it’s pretty lousy, and the art by Francis Portela is stiff and undistinguished. I’d love to hope on board Legion one of these days. But not here.

OS: DC sure did drop the ball with their Legion titles, two inaccessible messes that don’t take advantage of the relaunch and continue telling stories that people were already not reading. They reference Legion Lost (like that book makes any sense), and while we at least get some captions about who the characters are and their powers, the cast is so packed that there isn’t much time for actual character development. There’s no explanation in regards to what the Legion is or its mission, and the plot completely lacks emotional weight. I get that Paul Levitz is a classic Legion writer, but comics have changed a lot since Levitz’s heyday. His dialogue is bland and his plots predictable, with broadly drawn characters that aren’t interesting to read about. I think Portela is a capable artist well-suited for the Legion, but I don’t think there’s any artist that could compensate for the problems with Levitz’s script.

Captain Atom #1
KP: Do you know any Captain Atom fans, Oliver? I don’t. It’s always struck me as strange that this holdover from Charlton Comics—and the inspiration for Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan—keeps getting books. He looks cool, but I’ve never had a sense of who he is as a character, what he wants out of his superhero life, or why I should find a book in which he stars compelling. This first issue—written by J.T. Krul and drawn by Freddie Williams II—doesn’t really change that for me, but it comes closer than any previous Captain Atom comic. The Captain, a man who can control his body on the molecular level, is told that using his powers could destabilize, even destroy him. For some superheroes, their powers are a gift. For others, they’re a curse. Here’s someone who’s crossed firmly into curse territory, if he wasn’t there already. Krul’s script is fine, but it’s the art that really worked for me this issue. Williams uses soft, watercolor-like imagery. That’s counter-intuitive for a book about a guy who looks like he’s made out of metal, but the contrast works.

OS: Other than appearances in other books, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Captain Atom story. I know him best from Justice League Unlimited, which smartly emphasized the military aspect of the character. Krul puts the focus on the science, doing a better job with high-concept superhero sci-fi than last week’s Mister Terrific, and his dialogue is much less groan-worthy than his Green Arrow (which he will be leaving with #3, replaced by Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens). I would have liked to learn more about Captain Atom’s origin, but I think Krul makes a wise decision having the hero’s nuclear instability be the main hook of the issue. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Williams’ art in the past, but I was stunned by his work this issue. His line is more controlled and his anatomy more precise, with fantastic colors by Jose Villarrubia giving the art a Peter Snejberg vibe. I was surprised by how much I liked this, and as long as Krul keeps his bad habits in check, I’ll keep reading.


Red Hood And The Outlaws #1
OS: Seriously, DC? This is embarrassing. In a book starring Jason Todd and Roy Harper, I never expected poor Starfire to be the character that would be Red Hood And The Outlaws’ undoing. I should have known after seeing the cover art, though. Starfire’s costume is a pair of thigh-highs, bikini bottoms, and a top that looks like she tried to use a belt that couldn’t fit around her breasts, so she just super-glued it to her nipples. And she somehow still has a collar. In the issue, she is nothing more than a flying blow-up doll that can shoot pink lasers from her hands. When she gets a moment alone with Roy, he begins to ask her questions about her past, and she answers by immediately offering sex to him. Love doesn’t have anything to do with sex in Tamaranian culture, so apparently that means Starfire is now going to be sleeping with everyone in the name of some Playboy Club-esque perversion of female empowerment.

Scott Lobdell’s plot is a mess of secret organizations, vaguely named villains (“The Untitled” ...groan), and people talking about having sex/having had sex with each other. Jason Todd is becoming a bit like Marvel’s Moon Knight, his personality mostly heroic with mental illness hovering around the edges, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any substance to his character. Roy seems to have been retconned out of his dead-cat drug relapse, but he suffers from the same shallow characterization. I’m not sure if Starfire’s history has been erased or if her amnesia is a plot point, but she’s mostly just there to stand around and flash her goodies. Kenneth Rocafort is a strong artist who can draw excellent action, but coming out of Top Cow he has bad T&A tendencies that are on full display here. First the poor guy gets stuck with a Doomsday story in Action Comics, now this junk? How long until Rocafort gets swiped up by Marvel? This is the Lobdell I was worried about, and it makes nervous for next week’s Teen Titans (which announced a new, completely unsubtle gay character this week).

KP: So remember when I said Catwoman wasn’t my least favorite this week? Welcome to it. There’s a joke early on about a secret weapon being a “pair of 38s” that then cuts to Starfire. Rimshot. I don’t want to harp on the leering quality of books like Red Hood and Catwoman until I sound like a prude. Superhero comics can and often should be sexy. But this book reduces a character with a complicated history to a thoughtless sex-bot. And there was nothing about the story around that sex-bot to redeem the book. I don’t like Roy Harper and Jason Todd, at least not here. They’re all bad-boy attitude and no substance, and I wanted to stop spending time in their company as soon as possible. A big pass for me. 


DC Universe Presents: Deadman #1
KP: I really wanted to like this book, which clearly has ambitions beyond being just another superhero title. Writer Paul Jenkins goes for a melancholy, philosophical tone—fitting for a title about a ghost with no body to call his own—but it ends up turning the book into a mopey drag. This issue suggests he’s reworked Deadman into a sort-of metaphysical Quantum Leap, charging the former Boston Brand with floating into and out of troubled lives in their moments of crisis. At the opening of this story, centered on a suicidal veteran, he’s been at it a while, and, by his own account, not doing a particularly good job. That’s not a bad set-up, but nothing in this issue sold me on Jenkins’ ability to turn it into an intriguing story. I liked some of the touches—Deadman leaping from body to body trying to talk to someone who doesn’t want to have a conversation—but the big picture never developed for me. Nice art by Bernard Chang, though. Oh, and just a note: DC has two characters with origins tied to assassins targeting trapeze artists. Acrobats have short lifespans in that world, don’t they?

OS: I was thinking the exact same thing about DC’s doomed acrobats. This issue is as clunky as the title, with Jenkins cluttering the pages with narration that gets repetitive very quickly. We get it, Boston Brand jumps between bodies; we don’t need two pages describing 12 different people that he has possessed. Jenkins can tell strong, personal stories in a fantastic setting when he wants to, but his plot lacks a strong focus, stuck in idea limbo. I thought the Rama sequence was well done, especially with Chang’s art, but by the end of the issue I still wasn’t sure what Deadman’s purpose is. He’s apparently supposed to help lost souls get answers, but that doesn’t really play out in the story. I don’t know if this is going to be a Deadman book or a rotating character spotlight with different creative teams, but I’ll be skipping this initial storyline.


Next week: The thrilling conclusion, including first issues of The Flash, Aquaman, and Teen Titans.

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