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Mild Mannered Reviews - Special Comics

Young Romance: New 52 Valentine's Day Special #1

Young Romance: New 52 Valentine's Day Special #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 6, 2013

Cover date: April 2013

Superman & Wonder Woman in "Truth or Dare" and other stories

Writer: Andy Diggle and various others
Penciller: Robson Rocha and various others
Inker: Julio Ferreira and various others

Reviewed by: Michael J. Petty

Click to enlarge

Batman & Catwoman in "Think it Through"

Writer: Ann Nocenti
Penciller: Emanuel Lupacchino
Inker: Jamie Mendoza

This story starts with the lovely Selina Kyle reminiscing about her first encounter with "The Batman," years ago. Her and her boyfriend Billy are looking at some clothing that Selina would like to add to her collection when an extremely rude police officer tells them to go back to downtown Gotham where they "belong". That night, Billy & Selina rob Sunnyside Housing Project of TV's, stereo's, and other electronics, but only until Batman shows up. Selina and Billy fight back, but all it does is make Batman even angrier. Selina slips away and rushes to an abandoned cathedral that's across the street. Batman catches her and they fight on the roof top, until Selina falls through the stain-glass window. Batman catches her to make sure she safely reaches the ground. In the present, Selina reflects on what Batman told her shortly after that, about how once she starts thinking about others as opposed to only herself, then she can be with him.

Catwoman and Batman will meet again in the upcoming Catwoman #18!

5Story - 5: I give this story a solid 5/5. I think it did a good job (in the time it had) of establishing the New 52's Catwoman/Batman relationship, which is much different than the Post-Crisis universe's (as seen in Batman: Hush). It was kind of odd that Batman said that the television was the center of a families home... Well, not really odd, but more-so sad than anything else. Anyway, I really like Ann Nocenti's Catwoman. I have only read the "Death of the Family" tie-in issues of New 52 Catwoman (as I am a huge Batman fan and wanted EVERY DotF tie-in I could get... which is all of them by the way), but what I've read characterizes Selina very well and is very consistent with her title book (at least what I've read of it). Good little Valentine's Day short, and makes sense as Catwoman is stated to have fallen in love with Batman upon their first meeting.

5Art - 5: Again, nothing to complain about. The Catwoman team does wonders in their own book and here in the "Young Romance" special. I especially love the panel where Batman is holding Catwoman as they are going through the stain-glass window... Wow. That would be really cool in a movie.

Aquaman & Mera in "The Lighthouse"

Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Penciller: Inaki Miranda
Inker: Eva de la Cruz

This story starts off with Mera finding a bunch of old letters while helping Arthur (Aquaman) with his duties on the lighthouse. She discovers through these letters of a couple from back in the 1800s, Felicity Merkham and Samuel Wentworth. They met during a ball and danced, instantly falling in love. This did not last long as Felicity's father puller her away, forbidding him to have her, saying that he would love the sea more than her. The couple continued to write to one another in the form of letters (the same ones that Mera found) and they would confess their love to one another. But then, the power goes out in the lighthouse. In the present, Mera rushes to find a way to guide the sailing ships so they do not get lost in the storm. Arthur stays by her side to help her as he does not want her to be alone. In the past, the same event occurs, but Felicity and her father are not able to help the ships, and three are destroyed. In the present, Aquaman and Mera help many ships to safety so that they don't get caught in the storm. However, Mera is lost when she finds the remains of Samuel's ship "The Autumn's Daughter". Hours later, Aquaman is on shore with those he helped rescue, and Mera returns. Arthur was afraid he had lost his wife, and he declares that, "True love always comes home." Behind them, we see that Samuel did make it home, and he and Felicity were together at last.

Check out current issues of Aquaman for the conclusion of the "Throne of Atlantis" Justice League cross-over!

4Story - 4: I really enjoyed this Aquaman story. I mean, Aquaman is awesome and I love anything he's in (well, mostly), but I was a little disappointed that Geoff Johns didn't write this little side-story, seeing as how New 52 Aquaman is his baby. But, I guess he's way too busy as he is also writing Justice League, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, Vibe, Katana, Aquaman, and is going to be writing another episode of the CW's "Arrow" soon. He has a lot on his plate, so I understand. I really did like this story. I liked the flashback element of it and the parallels it gave to Aquaman and his wife (Mera for those who didn't realize they were married). I would have thought that this story would have been a Mera themed story, but I didn't expect the parallels to a "past love story" coming. It was a nice touch. There's not much more to really say then that, it was a fun read & a good, solid story. I got really invested in the whole thing, both Arthur & Mera and Samuel & Felicity.

4Art - 4: The art was decent, but it didn't really strike me like the art in the actual Aquaman book itself. It was good and deserves its 4/5, but it wasn't my favorite. None the less, good job on it, it looks good, it's just... Odd for Aquaman.

Batgirl in "The Dreamer"

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Penciller: Julius Gopez
Inker: Nathan Eyring

This story starts with a guy named Ricky, who is "trying" to steal a car. Until Batgirl shows up. He tells Batgirl that he had no intention of stealing the car in the first place, he just wanted her attention. And all is peaceful until Ricky's old gang shows up. Batgirl quickly takes each one of them down single-handedly. Ricky tells Batgirl that he's been thinking about her ever since she kissed him to keep him from getting branded a "snitch" (Batgirl Annual #1). Batgirl tells him that that kiss was not romantic and explains to him that she doesn't have time for love and why their "relationship" would never work. Ricky then asks if, just for fun, they could have one last kiss. Batgirl complies and they kiss. Ricky then begins to ramble about her maybe coming to him as her civilian identity and them going out, to which Batgirl replies, "Dream on, Ricky! Dream on."

See Ricky try to get his chance in the upcoming Batgirl #17!

4Story - 4: I liked this story. It was definitely Batgirl worthy. I was upset that it wasn't Gail Simone who wrote it, but hey, this guy was good too. I really liked that Batgirl realizes that her life it just too complicated to have a relationship. Although on that note, I hope she does realize that she could have a real relationship with someone else in the superhero biz. Nightwing perhaps... I don't know! But I hope so. I do feel bad for Ricky though. Guy has only one leg... Poor guy. Although, he did get to kiss Batgirl out of all superheroes. So that's a score!

3Art - 3: You know, the art wasn't terrible by any means, but I just wasn't feeling it. There were points where Batgirl looked older than her age, and then points where she looked younger. And when she said Ricky was cute... He didn't look very attractive at all in my opinion. Oh well, it could have been worse!

Apollo & Midnighter in "Seoul Brothers"

Writer: Peter Milligan
Penciller: Simon Bisley
Inker: Brian Buccellato

This story begins with Apollo flying into Seoul, South Korea and heads toward Itaewan (known "affectionately" as Homo Hill). He walks into a bar, but does not find who he's looking for. Meanwhile, Midnighter, focusing solely on his job at hand, is taking down some thugs who start shooting at him. They miss and hit a window as Midnighter goes flying out with the bullets (Apollo just-so-happens to be flying by), but grabs the ledge to hold him in place. The thugs think he's dead and drop their guard as Midnighter takes one by the leg and throws him out the window. He pops up from the ledge and proceeds to take another villain out, but only until an automatic weapon is pointed at his head. Luckily for him, Apollo yells for Midnighter to "get down" as he takes out the villain with an energy pulse. Shortly after the event, the two are on a rooftop and Midnighter tells Apollo that they can't afford to mix their emotions in with the kind of work they do for Stormwatch. Apollo agrees and Midnighter leaves. The last page reveals that they both know that Apollo was lying.

Check out upcoming issues of Stormwatch!

3Story - 3: Honestly, I could not get into this one. I only read the first issue of Stormwatch, so I have absolutely no connection to either of these characters. I don't understand their powers, their identities, their relationship, or really anything that was going on. In fact, this story was a little unsettling to me as it is a subject matter that I would rather not discuss. The only thing that saved it for me was Midnighter. He was the only cool and interesting part about this story. He gives off a very Batman-like vibe, but with the personality and morals of the Punisher. He's an interesting character. As for Apollo... He felt like a love-sick puppy dog to me and I couldn't get into him at all because he felt like a whiner. And if the title character (or in this case one of them) is a whiner, then there's no point (at least for me) in reading their story. It's just not interesting or gripping enough. Not like Midnighter.

3Art - 3: The art stuck out to me just as much as the story. Not so much. Midnighter looked cool a few times, but not even the art helped Apollo's case for me.

Nightwing & Ursa Minor in "Another Saturday Night"

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Penciller: Sanford Greene
Inker: Andrew Dalhouse

The night, at least for Dick Grayson, begins with Nightwing on the phone with his current girlfriend Jen, who breaks up with him while he's fighting a bunch of criminals, alongside Ms. Ursa Major, to protect her employer Mr. Reese. After the fight, Nightwing and Ursa get Chinese on a rooftop and Nightwing deduces her backstory. After having a very nice conversation about Dick's romantic life, Ursa jumps off the building and Nightwing follows her. After a bunch of parkour, Ursa says that they should do it again some-time. Nightwing offers to bring pizza for the following night and Ursa accepts. The next night, Nightwing is left alone, in the rain, with his pizza as Ursa stood him up.

5Story - 5: In all honesty, this is a classic Nightwing story. For those who are Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and/or Bat-Family fans, you know what I'm talking about. Dick Grayson has dated Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Starfire, Donna Troy (briefly), Tarantula, and had a semi-relationship with Supergirl. Each one of these relationships fell through at some point, but they all still managed to be friends (Super Friends?). I like Kyle Higgins work on the Nightwing book. He understands who Dick is and who he needs to be for Bruce (Wayne aka Batman). This story showed all of that. I felt bad for him at the end though when he was stood-up. That kinda sucks, especially on Valentine's Day. Sorry that I can't say more about why I enjoyed it, but it was just a nice little Valentine's Day story set in Nightwing's world. That's about it. It was just, fun, as a comic book should be!

5Art - 5: Nothing but praise. The artwork by Greene was fantastic. And the coloring was done nicely as well.

Superman & Wonder Woman in "Truth or Dare"

Writer: Andy Diggle
Penciller: Robson Rocha
Inker: Julio Ferreira

This "romantic evening" begins with Clark (Kent aka Superman) and Diana (Prince? aka Wonder Woman) sitting for dinner talking about Diana's family. She says that she'd rather not talk about them as she likes it being "just them". Clark says that it's all right and explains how he's felt bad about lying to everyone closest to him about who he is. Diana tells him that it's not hypocrisy (him lying to his friends), it's heroism. Clark tells her that with her, he doesn't have to worry about that, that he can just be himself. Diana talks about trying to find a place in the world, and as she finishes, the Mantic Sisters show up and put Clark under a spell. Diana's cousin Eros shows up explaining that the Sisters are sirens and under their control. The Sisters then demand Diana give up her bracelets (which they call bracers) and lasso or Superman is lost forever. Diana changes into her Wonder Woman uniform and whips Eros's pistols from his hands, breaking the siren's control over him. The sirens then order Superman to attack Diana to which she wraps him up in her lasso (which compels him to tell the truth) and he says that he doesn't want to hurt her, while he's punching her in the face. Eros then shoots the sirens who bow down back before him in reverence, giving Clark back control over his own body. Superman apologizes to Diana for hurting her and Eros accepts the blame, only to declare that Superman will never hurt his cousin nor love again as he shoots him. Diana, holding a "dying" Superman, tells Clark that if he was to love her, she wanted it to be of his own free-will and choice. Superman holds up the caught bullet and tells her that "it is".

Even more complications arise in this couple's young romance in the pages of Superman #19!

4Story - 4: I don't know much about the New 52 Wonder Woman book, but if nothing else the Justice League book and this story have told me what I need to know about her and her family. To be honest, the New 52 is a very good thing for characters like Wonder Woman, the Justice League, and even to an extent Superman, because it gives us new interpretations of certain characters' lives and loves that we would have never seen.

That being said, I know there's heated controversy about the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship with people saying that it makes both characters look weak and that it makes Steve Trevor and Lois Lane "useless," but in all honesty it actually works. There is no way that two of the most powerful superheroes on the planet (Superman and Wonder Woman) would NOT be attracted to each other, at least for a little while! It would be nearly impossible. I mean, think of the countless stories (canon or not) where they have been together. Kingdom Come is a good example. Lois is dead, Superman falls into a second love with Diana and they have a child. It would be illogical and stupid to not see the possible attraction. That's why I don't mind it, because I know that it will not last. Man of Steel is coming out, which means that Lois & Clark have got to get (back) together soon so that new readers won't get confused. Not only that, but there are other stories (Smallville: Season 11 is the main one) where Clark and Lois are together. So why not see him with someone else from time-to-time. Lois isn't (and never has been) the only woman Superman has ever loved (go watch Seasons 1-7 of Smallville if you don't believe me)!

Well, now that my rant about that is done, let me say that I liked this story, if not only for being a great introduction to Andy Diggle for writing New 52 Superman (he'll be taking over Action Comics from Grant Morrison once he finishes his final arc). So far, it seems promising, and I can't wait for more with both characters! Whether it's in Superman, Justice League, Aquaman ("Throne of Atlantis"), Wonder Woman, Smallville: Season 11, etc. 2013 looks promising for Superman, and hopefully Wonder Woman as well!

5Art - 5: I thought the art was really good for this story. It fits the world Wonder Woman lives in and also makes Superman look like he means business. Very good.

Conclusion: Over-all, Young Romance is exactly the kind of Valentine's Day Special I would expect DC Comics to put out with the New 52 in place. All the stories had good things about them (even the Stormwatch one...) and all of them had their faults, but all-in-all it was entertaining, especially for DC Comics fans who are looking for some romance in their own lives.

But I have to say, why were there THREE Batman-family stories? I mean, the Batman/Catwoman one you needed because of 1. How popular Batman is and; 2. Because of The Dark Knight Rises, but why did you need the Batgirl or Nightwing stories? I mean, they weren't bad, I quite enjoyed them, but they weren't needed. In all honesty, I would have rather seen a Barry Allen-Flash/Iris West story and a Hal Jordan-Green Lantern/Carol Ferris-Star Sapphire story instead of Batgirl and Nightwing, but that's just me. And, again, I didn't see the necessity of the Apollo/Midnighter story. It seemed like a publicity stunt to me, but that's only my opinion. I could be wrong... It was cool though that they included Valentine's Day cards in the actual comic book. My favorite one is the words that say, "The New 52" on it and the caption is "You've been rebooted as my valentine". There are a bunch of them, but that one's just classic!

4Cover Art - 4: I really like Kenneth Rocafort's art most of the time (especially in Pre-Crisis Action Comics and the New 52 Superman book), but I wasn't feeling this Superman/Wonder Woman kiss. Don't get me wrong, it's good looking art, but I feel like it was a poor imitation of Jim Lee's Justice League #12 cover. Regardless, it still looks pretty good.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2013

February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013

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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2013.