Welcome to week four of our mini-reviews of DC’s newly relaunched Rebirth titles. This week, the publisher is relaunching three of their most prominent monthly books — Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Flash. Have these latest titles improved upon their New 52 incarnations? Read on for all the details…
Wonder Woman #1
Writer Greg Rucka’s welcome return to the Amazing Amazon in the Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot set Diana of Themyscira on a quest to find out her true origins. Was she molded by Queen Hippolyta from clay, or the result of a torrid affair between her mother and Zeus? Is she really the God of War? According to her own lasso, which she wrapped around herself in order to find out the truth, it turns out Diana had been “deceived.” So what now?
In the first issue of the ongoing Wonder Woman Rebirth series, it begins with Diana in an unknown jungle location, where she reminds herself “the story keeps changing” in reference to her own backstory and memories. She’s going to meet an unknown person to help her find answers, although it seems this unknown person does not want to be found or talk to anyone, and sends all manner of obstacles to stop her, including were-beasts. But Diana isn’t one to give up so easily, and fights off everything her mystery throws at her . Meanwhile, Diana’s old friend Etta Candy is monitoring a mission which features Steve Trevor in an African nation, although how this subplot connects to Diana is, at the moment, a mystery.
The art in Wonder Woman #1 is exquisite. Penciler Liam Sharp drew the best parts of the Rebirth one-shot, but now he is one of the artists for the regular ongoing series, and I couldn’t be happier. He draws Diana as beautiful and sexy without being gratuitous about it (there are no “ass sticking out in weird poses” shots like there were with David Finch drawing her) and his redesign of costume is almost perfect, even if it sticks a little too close to Gal Gadot’s Batman v Superman design. But Liam Sharp draws it with such loving detail, I can’t help but be won over. Greg Rucka’s writing isn’t for everyone–the pacing is a bit slow at times–but if you’re a fan of his take on Wonder Woman, it’s hard not to love this book.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Much like Wonder Woman, the first issue of Aquaman is actually an improvement on the Rebirth one-shot that preceded it. For starters, the consistency of the art helped a lot. The one-shot was drawn by two separate artists, giving the book a more haphazard look. Issue #1 of Aquaman ongoing is drawn entirely by Brad Walker, and his style is perfect for the King of the Seven Seas.
The issue opens with our happy couple, Arthur and Mera, cuddling together and sipping their morning coffee on the balcony of Aquaman’s lighthouse, on the morning before Aquaman opens his Atlantean embassy, Spindrift Station, to the public and the press. He’s being watched, though, as the son of an old enemy is preparing to exact his revenge on Aquaman on the biggest day of his career as both monarch and superhero. Tensions are high between the surface world and Atlantis, and Aquaman needs this peace initiative to work. Of course, this being comics, things don’t go down that easy, and a terrorist attack at Spindrift Station sends the place into chaos. It’s then we find out who the villain behind all this really is, but I’ll let that remain a surprise.
Writer Dan Abnett writes a very relatable Aquaman here, not making the mistake other writers have in the past of having him be too aloof and not human enough. My favorite parts of the issue were Arthur and Mera being a supportive couple, proving that yes, married (or just coupled) heroes can indeed be interesting. A lot of potentially new and interesting supporting characters were introduced in this issue as well, and for the first time since Geoff Johns left the title a couple of years back, I think I am all aboard for Aquaman once again.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Since Barry Allen is central to the events of Rebirth in such a huge way, I honestly wish Flash #1 had blown me away, but in the end, I thought this first issue of the new ongoing Flash series had a lot of the same problems that the Rebirth one-shot had for me. While I enjoy writer Joshua Williamson’s handling of Barry Allen and his supporting cast…the pencils from new artist Carmine Di Giandomenico just don’t do it for me about half the time. Sometimes it comes off as kinetic and cool, and other times it just looks a little too sloppy for my taste. Having said that, I’d say there was a lot of interesting stuff in this issue, and it looks like Central City will be getting yet another speedster before it’s all said and done. I’m always cool with more members of the Flash family.
The issue opens with a flashback to the night Barry Allen was struck by lightning and got his powers, and it turns out there was another person who was there with him and witnessed the whole thing: a cop named August Heart. Barry helped clear one of August’s family members from a serious crime, or at least attempted to, and therefore the latter feels a close bond to Barry. Flash-forward (heh) five years later, and August comes back to Barry’s life, showing some potential for character development, and even deeper ties to the whole Speed Force mythology.
Some stuff that I liked in this issue: the nice scenes between Barry Allen and his girlfriend Iris West (and her nephew Wally–new, younger, African-American Wally, not older ginger Wally. I know, it gets confusing) that remind me of the better parts of the TV show. They even meet at the coffeehouse Jitters, which is a central location on the CW series. I thought those were cute touches. In the end, I wanted to love the new Flash series as much as I love the TV show, but I’m just not there yet. I just have to get over the fact that I have very mixed feelings about the art. I’ll keep reading, but I wish I was as excited about this book as I was the other current Rebirth books.
RATING: 2.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
Images: DC Comics