The big DC Universe Rebirth event began last week, in an 80-page one shot written by Geoff Johns. But that was just the beginning. Now come the Rebirth one shots for all the major DC heroes, establishing their new status quos going forward. We’ve read the first four Rebirth specials, and have mini-reviews for each of them, starting with the Man of Steel…
Superman: Rebirth #1
Of all the books from DC heading into Rebirth, by far Superman has the weirdest status quo. Essentially, the New 52 version of the Man of Steel—he who wore jeans and a t-shirt, followed by armor, and who dated Wonder Woman and not Lois Lane—has died. As the world mourns him, he’s essentially being replaced by an older version of Superman, one from an alternate Earth that resembles the one we knew from before Flashpoint. This version of Clark used to wear red trunks, is married to Lois Lane (and has a child), was once very famously killed by Doomsday, and came back from the grave that one time.
The Rebirth issue—from the creative team of writer Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke—opens with Old Supes going to the burial site of New Supes, essentially on a grave-robbing mission. He plans to take the body back to the Fortress of Solitude, where hopefully the regeneration chamber can bring him back to life like it did for him. He runs into Lana Lang, who is also on a grave robbing mission, except she plans to take the body back to Smallville, and bury Clark beside his parents. She runs into Old Supes, who at first, she thinks is her Superman back from the dead. He more or less explains to her he’s not the same Clark she knew, but that maybe together they can bring him back. Lana doesn’t think it will work, because she “feels” that her Clark is gone, but nevertheless, she helps Old Supes take the body back to the Fortress.
It’s here where things get interesting, as much of the rest of the issue is Old Supes coming to terms with the idea that his counterpart isn’t coming back and that he’d have to emerge from the shadows and step up to take his place as this world’s Man of Steel. The DC Universe: Rebirth special dropped some interesting hints about the true nature of this Superman, suggesting he’s not from an alternate universe, and that the New 52 Superman might have been an imposter in the first place (it certainly felt that way to readers) but none of that is followed up on in this special. Ultimately, the writing was solid enough—and the concept weird enough—that I’m on board with a Superman comic for the first time in a long time, so kudos DC… ya got me! I’ll keep reading the Superman books thanks to this one-shot.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Batman: Rebirth #1
In contrast to Superman being totally screwed up by the New 52, by contrast the New 52 version of Batman was one of the best ever, especially the run by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Now writer Tom King is taking over Batman, although for this Rebirth special he’s got some help for Mr. Snyder. The art chores come from Mikel Janin, who does a great job here. So much so, in fact, I wish he were the regular Batman artist going forward.
The issue centers around Duke Thomas, who readers might remember from the recent We Are Robin series. He comes to the Wayne Manor to see about Bruce’s “job offer” which, he assumes, is to become his new Robin, now that Batman’s son Damian is off doing his own thing. It’s not a job he particularly seems to want, as he feels Robin doesn’t actually need a Batman.
At the same time, old Gotham villain the Calendar Man is back, and much more deadly than before, with his body now seemingly attuned to the seasons: he dies in the winter, then molts his skin in the Spring, and is reborn a young man in the summer. His body is speeding up the seasons in Gotham City through some hidden mechanism, and once summer hits, deadly spores will go off in the city, killing millions. You know, another typical day in Gotham.
Batman does some typical Batman-esque daring-do, and is able to convince Duke to join up with him, but not as the new Robin. You’ll have to read the issue to see what Duke’s new identity is, although all I was really left thinking was, “Man, Batman goes through partners like Kleenex, regardless of what they’re called.” It’s hard for me to tell if this book is good primer for getting into Rebirth Batman going forward, as it’s unclear how much of the book is the result of Scott Snyder (it does feel very Snyder) or new writer Tom King. The introduction of a new partner for Batman, though, and one who is more than just another Robin, is an interesting concept. So for now, I’m down for more of this Rebirth era Batman.
RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1
Green Lantern is another DC book that wasn’t terribly damaged by the New 52; it was such a popular title that DC decided, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” This new book isn’t your grandma’s GL, though. It’s Green Lanterns, plural, granted not enough for a whole Corps. The issue centers of two recently created characters: Simon Baz, the Muslim-American GL, and Jessica Cruz, the Latina former Power Ring who is now officially a proper GL. This issue is written by former GL guru Geoff Johns, along with Sam Humphries, who will be writing Green Lanterns going forward. The art is from Ed Benes and Ethan Van Sciver, who is considered the modern Green Lantern artist, all of which helps make this issue better.
The main thrust of the issue is that Hal Jordan needs to go off into deep space to help his fellow Corpsmen (see the upcoming Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps series) and must leave Earth in the hands of the two new rookie Lanterns. Hal pulls a twist on them though: to learn to cooperate, he fuses their power battery into one, meaning they are going to have to learn how to share and put their differences aside in order to protect the Earth.
In terms of actual story, this issue didn’t have too much; it was mostly set up for the ongoing series, which will have a different art team on it. There’s a cliffhanger in the issue that has me kind of interested to see where it all goes, although it’s a plot device that has a bit of a “been there/done that” feel to it. Overall though, I’m mildly interested about what happens to these two rookies next…although the Simon Baz GL has got to stop carrying a gun. Why even do that when he has the most powerful weapon in the universe? I’ll never not think that’s lame.
RATING: 2.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Green Arrow: Rebirth #1
Finally, there’s the Green Arrow Rebirth issue. True confessions time: I’ve never been that into Green Arrow outside of his appearances in the pages of certain Justice League comics. I don’t even watch Arrow. But I do know that the New 52 incarnation of GA wasn’t really what I enjoyed about the character. Not enough of a raging liberal, no goatee, and worst part: no Black Canary. In the New 52 continuity, the two hadn’t even met yet. With all those vital GA ingredients missing, why would I want to read that?
Well, the new Green Arrow Rebirth returns a lot of those elements to the character. He even refers to himself as the Social Justice Warrior. I guess in Oliver Queen’s case, the “warrior” part isn’t just fancy words referring to impassioned discussions on the internet. The plot, by writer Benjamin Percy, has GA saving some homeless and runaway kids from a bizarre underground society that auctions off “unwanted people.” But the best part of the issue wasn’t the plot, but instead Oliver Queen’s meeting of Dinah Lance, a.k.a. the Black Canary, for the first time. These two had only met briefly in the pages of the DC Universe Rebirth special, and the two instantly felt a connection, no doubt a reference to their long history in the pre-Flashpoint universe.
From the moment these two meet in this comic, you can totally tell this is a pairing that should have never been undone. The writing is sharp (no pun intended) from Percy, and the artwork from Otto Schmidt is delightful and quirky. Unlike with the other Rebirth books I just reviewed, this will be the creative team that will handle the regular Green Arrow book when it hits. Given that, this might be the first Green Arrow book I pick up on regular basis.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Check out further discussion on Rebirth in our video below, detailing seven controversial comic book moments.
Images: DC Comics