Civil War II #0 dropped on May 18th, making it about two months before we got a truly great comic book out of this whole thing. Civil War II: Kingpin by Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank) and a bevvy of artists including Dalibor Talajic and Ricardo Lopez-Oritz is an absolute delight. The story revolves around Kingpin coming back to New York as he often has before- broken and looking to rebuild his empire. The difference is that now, the heroes can predict future crime which makes running the mob kind of difficult. Luckily, Fisk stumbles upon a former employee, one who found out he was Inhuman and that his power was that his actions could not be predicted by Ulysses. The art is a little bit rough here and there, but it fits the tone and pace of this book. It’s a grimy trip through the underworld that’s often hilarious and could have some pretty big implications for the larger Civil War II story, not to mention the fact that it’s already going to be relaunched as an ongoing after the event is over.
Future Quest may be getting all the love, but I’m pretty sure that Flintstones is the absolute best of the Hanna Barbera line. I honestly was not expecting the level of world-building, emotion, and deft social commentary before realizing this was written by Mark Russell, who brought us the equally brilliant Prez reboot. The story revolves around Fred being tasked by Mr. Slate with showing some neanderthals (who have no concept of money or employment) around Bedrock in the hopes that they’ll use their great strength in the quarry. This serves as a neat way to show us around Bedrock while using the naivete of the neanderthals to cause some soul-searching for Fred and Wilma. Russell injects a healthy amount of Mad Men into this story. The Loyal Army of Water Buffalo is still a VFW lodge, but instead of bowling, they talk about their PTSD from the war to civilize the land. Wilma is a frustrated artist, not content to be a perfect housewife, but not cool enough for the art scene. If this all sounds too dark, it’s really not. All of the animals-as-gadgets gags and puns are still there and they’re laugh out loud funny, though I’m pretty sure an upcoming plot point is going to be the sentient animals realization that they’re being used for slave labor. Overall this is a totally engrossing re-imagining of a classic that’s got ‘Cult Hit’ written all over it.
Really quickly: Superman goes full force into the father/son relationship between Clark and Jon and I didn’t think I’d enjoy watching Superman be a dad this much, but hot dang is it great. Green Arrow finds out his whole world has been blown up after he started pulling the thread on the trafficking ring and he’s out to get it back. Everything about this series so far has been right on point for an Emerald Archer comic and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Batman officially meets Gotham and Gotham Girl, the new heroes of the city and treats them the way he treats everyone with Kryptonian-ish powers- with a healthy dose of skepticism and condescension.
Aquaman #2 works like a charm thanks to Dan Abnett’s choice to make the showdown between Aquaman and Black Manta a very personal and brutal affair. The fight takes place in cramped quarters as the two enemies essentially deconstruct the dynamic of the hero and their arch-nemesis. Of course Aquaman wins the day (in a bit of a hackneyed manner tbh), but the larger battle is obviously still to come. The friction between the Atlantean and surface civilians remains interesting and hopefully will remain the crux of this story.
Green Lanterns continues to charm in its second issue, though it seems like everyone is working out the kinks with the pacing now that the books double ship. As opposed to Aquaman’s first three issues that completely wrap up the immediate conflict, there’s not much (if any) real forward momentum to the story involving people on earth being turned into rage zombies by something from a Red Lantern prophecy. Even so, Sam Humphries has Baz and Jessica down so well that it’s not a problem for me. Simon’s entrance when he ‘rescues’ Jess is one of the best moments of Rebirth so far and their hapless, bickering, and overwhelmed dynamic is still enough to carry the issue.
Speaking of the Green Lanterns, over in Justice League Rebirth when they show up to help the League fight the giant monster, they offhandedly mention the other disaster that they’re dealing with in their own book. It’s only a line or two at most, but acknowledging the continuity of another title is something I don’t think I’ve seen in a DC book since…2011 I suppose. This is a pretty good example of what a solid, if run-of-the-mill, Rebirth issue should look like. It very quickly and clearly establishes the team (Bats, WW, Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman, both Lanterns, and pre-52 Superman) and their dynamic (they’re all pretty wary of pre-52 Supes) while they fight a giant alien who is actually a warmup for the larger threat to come. Hitch has proven himself a pretty capable writer when it comes to the League with his good (but unfinished) JLA series. The two keys to a good JLA story are nailing the voices and interplay of the Leaguers and finding a problem or villain large enough in scope that it requires the League to solve it. Hitch has both down and with Tony Daniel providing art for the main series, this is looking to be a fine run.