Comicbook Reviews – 1/15/2020

Aquaman #56

The countdown to Aquababy has begun! As the birth of Aquaman and Mera’s child grows near, don’t miss this special interlude issue! In a story that takes place days after Aquaman and Mera’s engagement, a violent encounter with the resurgent Kingdom of the Trench leads to an unexpected outcome, and the conflict sheds new light on Aquaman and Mera’s plans for their future.

What I’m excited for…

Any substantive advancement of Arthur and Mera’s relationship. With his proposal happening in the closing moments of DC Rebirth, and the saga of their impending nuptials serving as the core of the series to date, the near constant delays have begun to grow a bit long in the tooth.

What I thought…

While taking a step back in time to the early days of rebirth is a frustrating stall tactic, it is at least handled with a certain degree of care. The conflict with the Trench serves as a solid backdrop for how well Arthur and Mera work together. They’re powerhouses in their own rights, and seeing them handle the Trench amid a humanitarian crisis serves to remind the audience that Aquaman and his betrothed are not fish out of water when it comes to heroics.

All this said, the waffling stance of both Arthur and Mera on the subject of children is less of a look at the concerns of any would be parent and more of a groan inducing slog through tropes and cliches that every newlywed has had to deal with. Compared to the outright random reaction Arthur had to Mera’s pregnancy after the Drowned Earth saga, it feels that this book is a drift when it comes to how to handle the upcoming changes to the titular character’s status quo.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

The Flash #86

The Flash battles Captain Cold for the last time!  The Rogues’ Reign is a brutal battle for power over Central City, but the tides are turning and the reign approaches a deadly end! With the Speed Force in chaos, can Glider help channel Flash’s powers long enough to overthrow her brother, Captain Cold?

What I’m excited for…

There have been so many shifts in the status quo throughout this story that I find myself really wondering just how this fight between Flash and Cold will play out. Of course, Flash will emerge victorious but how will he do it? The speed force is out of control, Cold is more powerful than ever and the fate of Central City hangs in the balance.

What I thought…

I’ll cut to the chase. I LOVED this issue. The glimpse inside Cold’s mind illustrates just har far the Rogue has fallen. Barry is outmatched on in a straight fight and has to think on his feet in order to win the day. These are my favorite kinds of Flash tales, the ones that don’t rely on him running around and saving everyone but rather hang on the keen mind beneath the Scarlet Speedster’s cowl.

The ending is both a bit of a stunner, but also rings true to who Barry Allen is at his core. Central City comes first, even at the expense of her protector’s freedom.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Flash Foward #5

Wally West has gotten to the heart of his mission to save the Multiverse… and the heart he found was his own.  When it’s discovered that the dark multiversal world that’s threatening all of existence is the world in which Wally’s children are alive, our hero must overcome his greatest fears, regrets, and anger to do what’s right.  But what’s right is the hardest thing anyone would ever imagine doing… letting go.

What I’m excited for…

Wally’s adventures through the edges of the multiverse have been equal parts fun and harrowing. One world at a time he’s managed to piece back together the core of his humanity, and now it could all be ripped apart again.

What I thought…

The saga of Wally West’s throughout the Rebirth era has been intense. Driven to the brink of madness by the loss of his Wife and Children and now, reunited with them in a hell of his own making, the stage is set for the Fastest Man Alive’s finest hour.

Seeing Wally push himself to the absolute limit to save his children sent chills down my spine. In a comicbook world that has a very hit and miss approach to fatherhood, seeing something so true to life really drove home the emotional core of this book. Iris and Jai are Wally’s world, and he’ll go through hell and back a thousand times over to keep them safe. Nothing in the multiverse will stand in the way of the Fastest Father alive.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Legion of Super-Heroes #3

You knew there was no way Jon Kent was going to leave his best friend behind! Welcome to the future, Damian Wayne!  (This is such a terrible idea!)  Also, meet the new Legionnaires as they head to a secret undercover mission on the first man-made planet: Planet Gotham. Every page of this new DC epic plants seeds and ideas that will blast out across the DC Universe for months to come!  All this, and Monster Boy is on the loose!

What I’m excited for…

Seeing the heir apparent to “man with no superpowers fights along side superheroes” mantle rubbing elbows with the most random collection of powered individuals this side of the 31st century is going to be entertaining.

What I thought…

In typical fashion, the story that was solicited and emblazoned across the cover makes up about 1/10th of the final product. Damian’s interactions with the Legion are relegated to a handful of hurried dialog beats randomly interjected into what was actually a rather interesting tale.

There’s a mystery at the heart of why Jon has been invited to the Legion and how Damian’s murky future may play into their story. Problem is, we’ve spent 3 issues trying to get Jon to sit through a power point presentation on what he’s there as opposed to actually telling the story. Tonally it makes for an odd experience. Also, what’s with the cold shoulder from Mon-El?

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Nightwing #68

Being a superhero often means layers of identities.  For Ric Grayson, he once had a life as a sidekick to Batman, a life he forgot when a terrible gunshot wound erased his memories.  When his long lost grand-father, who is also a super-assassin called Talon, returned to his life and implanted false memories into his brain, that added another layer.  Now, with Talon vanquished, Ric Grayson has to shake loose the truth. Is he the man he has created for himself, or is there still some of the old Nightwing lurking around inside his head?  Even if he wanted to, could Ric be Nightwing again when four other people have put on the mask and picked up where he left off?  Whichever it is, Talon made a mess of his current life, and now Ric has to start putting it all back together.

What I’m excited for…

To see Ric finally face off against his grandfather and turn away from the Court of Owl’s programing was a great relief. This storyline has been a bit of a slog, replete with an unnecessary amount of filler (Burnback, really?) It was nice to see Ric shed his Talon trapping and take his first steps down the path to reclaiming the mantle of Nightwing.

What I thought…

Rather than just presto-chango rewriting all of his experiences to date, Jurgens finds a way to take the few worth-wild elements of this new chapter and blend it into the tangle of fragmented memories swirling inside Grayson’s skull.

Ric finds himself on unfamiliar ground, struggling to find the balance between the past he remembers and the one that feels right. The tortured, tough guy exterior that played more like a Jason Todd clone melts away and we are treated with a distilled version of Dick Grayson. He might not have all of his memories back in their proper place but his intrinsic charm and penchant for snarky fight banter reassured the audience that our Dick Grayson is still in there somewhere, fighting to be free.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Teen Titans #38

The Other’s identity has been revealed… and it’s someone very close to Damian! Now that he understands the Other’s mission, will Damian be tempted to join him? How will the rest of the team react to Roundhouse’s rescue attempt after he so cruelly betrayed them? And will Djinn ever escape her ring?

What I’m excited for…

With The Other’s identity established we’re about to get a confrontation that has been years in the making. These new Teen Titans are in the fight of their lives, and their leader is fighting for his very soul.

What I thought…

My issues with the direction this book took after the New Justice relaunch not withstanding, I have really enjoyed how this book has evolved Damian Wayne. He’s still the same barely tolerable ass he always is, but to see him actually struggling with his own emotions amidst a battle that has shaken his team to the core is a refreshing take on the character.

The threads of destiny, young love and heroism that have tied Damian and Djinn since her arrival have become a noose for Robin, and he is forced to make the kind of heart-wrenching decisions he will need to make on a daily basis if he is ever to become his Father’s heir. We’re reminded that Damian walks the razor’s edge, teetering on the edge between his father’s shadow and his grandfather’s legacy. In this issue he comes face to face with his demons and is forced to take stock and reconcile who he is, who he wants to be and who the world and the Teen Titans need him to be.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Avengers #29

The battle for the Starbrand heats up like a supernova, as Captain Marvel goes toe to toe with Firelord, Ghost Rider races the Silver Surfer and Brood Thor… tries to eat the Avengers.  Meanwhile the Black Widow kicks much butt in outer space with a bold new weapon in her arsenal. That’s right, the Black Widow + the War Machine armor = the all-new, all-deadly War Widow.

What I’m excited for…

Brood Thor. War Widow. More of Captain Corsair? pretty much.

What I thought…

I’ll be honest. I have very little interest in this current story. It’s pure filler and every time I see that godawful new She-Hulk design I have to repress the urge to scratch my eyes out. That said, Brood Thor is downright hilarious and just a little bit unnerving. It’s as if he’s the result of Aaron asking himself “What if I combined Thor, Venom and the Bug from Men In Black?”

Watching Widow, Silver Surfer and the rest of the gang exchange blows and measure…egos during their quest to claim the Starbrand is both entertaining and deserving of an eye roll. All told, a fun but not exactly substantive issue of Avengers.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

Go Go Power Rangers #27

NECESSARY EVIL CONTINUES! Trini and Zack meet the one person who can make them OMEGA RANGERS, but are warned about the consequences of joining Jason. At the Tower of Light, Tommy faces off against Lord Zedd, but without his powers will he be strong enough to stop him?

What I’m excited for…

This new “secret origin” take on The White Light adds a new depth to one of my favorite parts of Ranger lore and still manages to blend flawlessly with the events of the TV series. Boom’s Power Rangers books in conjunction with the original series manages to create one of the most immersive Power Rangers experiences to date.

What I thought…

A morphenominal entry in the tale of Tommy Oliver. Seeing him make a futile last stand against Zedd in order to protect the White Light was both stunning and mind-numbingly stupid…and I mean that in a good way. In some ways it’s our last glimpse of the headstrong hero that Tommy was during his Green Ranger days. He’s the leader now, and that calls for a certain degree of maturity that he’s yet to truly embrace.

Likewise, Jason’s continued struggles with his memories of the Shattered Grid and Trini and Zack’s steadfast dedication to their friend and leader make’s their coming departure as well as their time as Omega Rangers feel earned and not quite as rushed as their in-show departure.

The real standout of this issue is the final conversation between Jason and Tommy. The book manages to handle the somewhat random demotion of Jason as team leader and Tommy’s ascension into the role with a grace that the show lacked and set the stage for Rocky’s tenure as the Red Ranger. Will this redeem the lackluster Ranger’s time behind the Tyranosaur power? That much remains to be seen.

Above Average Joe’s Rating

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