New Comics Week 6/1/14: In Which Rebirth Continues to Rule

Paper Girls is back from break, and it is back with a bang. Brian K. Vaughn’s script is snappy and surprising and Cliff Chiang is running on all cylinders. The girls land in the future (well, the future to them) and though not a lot actually happens, Vaughn and Chiang keep the momentum going. Part of a mini-wave of books that give off a strong 80’s Spielberg vibe (See Also: Plutona and Descender, both excellent), Paper Girls works mainly because of its endearing and grounded characters contrasted with some really out-there sci-fi weirdness. The more we see of the world beyond the suburbs, the more questions are raised by its more familiar elements. Its that combination of the relatable and the zany that really sells what the team is doing here.

The Goddamned is such a weird concept, and yet it works so well. A Mad Max/exploitation take on the Old Testament, not long before the flood that follows the unwillingly immortal Cain as he searches for a way to end his suffering. Thanks mostly to R.M. Guera’s art, it’s a truly brutal and visceral tale that’s kind of a gut punch to the Sunday School idea of the time period. It’s unflinchingly bleak, like a lot of Jason Aaron’s work, but it’s clear that there’s a little pinhole of hope shining through from somewhere., but until then, I’m happy enough to sit in the muck.

So that Spider-Women crossover was kind of a dud, but I suppose it was necessary to let Javier Rodriguez get some breathing room, and man was it worth it. Spider-Woman #8 is a neat little one-off that would be somewhat trite if not for Rodriguez’s art. That’s not a knock against Hopeless’ script at all- it’s as clever and honest as always. It’s just that in this mostly self-contained and personal story, Rodriguez is channeling Kirby’s bombastic action and posing and mixing it with Steranko’s adventurous layouts and wild use of color.

You know, I almost forgot that Civil War II #1 was out this week, thanks mostly to how excited I was about Rebirth. So let’s get it out of the way. David Marquez’s art is great, if a little bit hollow (though I think that’s mostly due to the coloring) which makes me miss Coipel’s work on the zero issue. The story…hmm. How do I say this…with Reed Richards being sidelined, this is the biggest stretch in the Marvel Universe. None of it rings true, none of it flows together. There’s moments that work- Tony inviting everyone for drinks was cute- but they’re few and far between. Most importantly though, the shock-moments aren’t really all that shocking. It’s the first issue, of course. More importantly, it’s a Bendis first issue meaning that decompression is the name of the game. So stick around. Or…

Read Rebirth! It’s great! All-around great! Granted, there have only been five issues to judge it on, but man are they fun. Let’s run them down:

Batman, the only consistent across the board success of the New 52, sees Scott Snyder hand the keys over to Tom King, who brings a bit of that wonderful feeling of unease that Vision is soaked in to Gotham. We don’t get a ton of setup for the new series, aside from solidifying Duke Thomas as the sidekick for the series and a creepy new element to Calender Man. Overall, it’s very good but not entirely informative or necessary.
Green Lanterns is kind of the opposite of Batman in that there’s not a lot of atmosphere, but there is a lot of table setting. This one hinges mostly on the chemistry between Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz and luckily it works like a charm. Humphries fulfills the promise of getting back to the space-cop aspect of the GL books as they’re played like rookie cops, both overconfident and overcompensating. It’s fun, funny, and a nice kickoff to what I’m hoping is one of my new favorites.
Superman is the prettiest issue of the week, with Doug Mahnke’s recreation of Superman’s battle with Doomsday being a truly eye popping sequence. The issue revolves around the New 52 Lana Lang meeting the pre-52 (bearded) Superman as she breaks into the grave of the New 52 Superman. It sounds complicated, but the issue does a really great job of recapping the events that lead to his death while giving us a taste of that sweet, sweet pre-52 Superman. You know, the one that seems like the leader of the Justice League. The inspiring one. The one who’s been around the block a little. It feels really good to have him back. It’s also really interesting that he’ll be watching as Reign of the Supermen Redux begins and think about what role he’ll play, having seen it all before.

Green Arrow is this week’s Rebirth winner, if only because it’s been so long since we’ve seen anything close to an Oliver Queen that feels this right. In fact, the vibe I kept getting as I read it was that writer Ben Percy has been watching a lot of Justice League Unlimited in preparation for this book. Add to that the fact that Black Canary is both back in Ollie’s orbit and (more importantly) not a rock star anymore and this has jumped the Emerald Archer to the top of my read pile.

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