Mild Mannered Reviews – Elsewhere in the DCU: Sept 14-19, 2016

Welcome to the newest feature for the Superman Homepage, chronicling the adventures and appearance of both Superman and related characters that make an appearance in other DCU books.

Ever since Rebirth, DC comics have been on fire. There has been so many great titles. Written and illustrated by some of the best and newest talents in the comics industry today. As Superman fans we have been so very fortunate to not only have some top notch Superman stories told in the main two titles, but also have an extended family of titles start up. And some that have still yet to be released.

Here at the Homepage we usually cover all the Superman related titles, but lately, some of Superman’s rogue’s gallery have been popping up in other corners of the DCU, and what better way to keep the members of the Homepage and casual fans up to date, than a new feature/review of these titles.

Earlier this month (September 2016), Superman made an appearance in Aquaman #6, which was already covered by our own Mario Bennese. So go check out that excellent review, I don’t need to cover that. However, a couple of Superman’s notorious villains have popped up, which we will be looking at this week.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Mild Mannered Reviews – Red Hood & The Outlaws #2

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Red Hood & The Outlaws #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 14, 2016

Cover date: November 2016

“Dark Trinity” – Part 2

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art: Dexter Soy

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

The story so far, The Redhood has gone on an undercover mission to take down Black Mask’s criminal organization in Gotham. With Batman’s help and blessing, Redhood (Jason Todd) staged a confrontation with Batman, to get on Black Mask’s radar and get recruited by him to find out how far he is willing to go to expand his criminal empire in Gotham.

Once Redhood manages to “get in good” with Black Mask’s organization, he is tasked to hijack a train that is carrying a “game changing” weapon.

During the heist, Redhood manages to run into the Amazon, Artemis. Artemis is on a mission of her own, she is trying to recover the “Bow of Ra,” an ancient weapon she has coveted for a long time (possibly centuries). She was denied the weapon by the Goddess Nephthys, whom told her that she wasn’t ready to possess it at that certain time, and seems to have been chasing it ever since.

Artemis and Redhood initially engage in battle with one another, only to realize that each is on a righteous quest of their own, and would possibly be more helpful if they worked together.

Once they catch up to Black Mask who is making off with one of the freight train containers via helicopter, both Redhood and Artemis realize just exactly what the “game changing” weapon really is…

A Superman clone…

5Story – 5: So far there have only been three issues of this title released. The Rebirth Special being the first followed by issues 1 & 2. So it’s an easy jumping on point. And I recommend this to anyone that has been a fan of these characters in the past.

Lobdell is a writer that prefers the “slow burn” when it comes to his stories. And he is usually successful at it, especially when he is writing secondary characters such as these. Lobdell initially wrote Red Hood & The Outlaws when the New 52 began, which turned out to be a good title. So it’s good to see that he is able to carry on that here in the Rebirth era. I’m enjoying the slow pacing so far, and the general direction the books headed. I can already see a bit of a love affair waiting to happen between Redhood and Artemis. And will be interesting to see what the team dynamic is once Bizarro is part of the team.

I like how this book is in direct contrast to the upcoming Trinity title coming soon. Redhood, Artemis and Bizarro are somewhat of a “Dark Trinity”. Whom have all played the hero and the villain (he’s Bizarro has been the hero of some tales in the past). It should be interesting to see how that goes, and weather the Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman eventually turn up in any opposing manner to this team.

Personally I really hope that we get a new version of Bizarro, instead of the sometimes mindless backwards talking oaf we are usually presented with. Bizarro may be one of Superman’s foes, but he isn’t evil. Therefore being part of a team like Redhood’s outlaws isn’t too far of a stretch. I’ve always considered Bizarro like what Man-bat is to Batman. A creature of circumstance not bred out of greed or corruption, but rather more of an accident. I’m also very curious to learn where Black Mask acquired this clone from. And what would Lex do when he discovers that one of his Superman clones is running free… If it even is one of Lex’s?…

To quickly wrap up the story part of the review, I’ve always been very skeptical of the resurrected Jason Todd as a character, especially back when Judd Winick (following Jeph Loeb after Batman: Hush) bought him back as the Redhood. Though I liked the story, I always felt that DC editorial should have left him dead. His death had such a big influence on Batman and his world. He was a constant reminder that Batman had failed to protect Robin, and that a Robin had died under his watch. It was really Scott Lobdell that changed my mind, when he wrote Jason as an anti-hero, who had become more like the Punisher than Batman. So I like where the direction he is headed in now, especially how he still tries to impress and do Batman proud.

I also really liked the fact that Artemis giant axe “Mistress” is very much similar to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. It comes when she calls.

Lobdell has made me eager to read the further adventures of Redhood and his Outlaws. So mission accomplished there DC.
5Art – 5: The art in this book is really, really good. It is a perfect marriage with the writing and tone of this series. The manga influence and the dark shadowed grittiness make it a real treat every issue.

Dexter Soy has evolved from a good illustrator to a great visual storyteller. I really am amazed at how good he has gotten from the last project I saw his work on, which was Masters of the Universe VS DCU.

Here Dexter is simply just handling the art duties, and not coupling that with coloring. Which I feel the art appears sharper for it. Dexter has a great sense of style when it comes to setting the mood for a scene or sequence.

He has handled all three issues so far, and the art hasn’t suffered. So I really hope he is able to keep at this pace, and finish whole storylines, before taking a break.

The redesigned look for Redhood is just as good looking as what Kenneth Rocafort designed when he started the book with Lobdell at the beginning of the New 52. There is a natural evolution in his design.

Artemis has a very cool sleek redesign too. She has familiar Wonder Woman tropes to her costume, such as the head gear with the familiar star adorning her forehead. White stripes down the centre of her boots. Gauntlets (not to be mistaken for bracelets). And of course the chest armor. However along with these elements, she also has a very modern look, with the pants. I know that Wonder Woman had pants at one stage, which caused a huge stir. But they work for Artemis, most probably because she is a secondary character, and fandom won’t make a huge deal about it.

We have only really gotten a small glimpse of Bizarro so far, and from that one page, we know that he has the exact same suit as the Rebirth Superman. I hope that the look evolves further and that he doesn’t just have a Superman suit, with slightly mutated colors and a backwards “S” insignia.

There also needs to be an explanation as to why Bizarro has the same costume as Rebirth Superman, and not the body armor of the New 52 Superman? Assuming that this Bizarro is a clone of the new 52 Superman, because there really can’t be a way he is a clone of rebirth Superman.

Lastly let me quickly comment on colorist Veronica Gandini’s palette. She is simply amazing! I especially loved her issue #1 flashback sequence, all done in grey, except for Jason Todd’s red hooded sweatshirt. You instantly knew from looking at the pages, that that was a young Jason Todd. Her separations and other color effects are outstanding. Really fits the tone and look of this book.

4Cover Art – 4: The main covers don’t do the book justice I’m afraid. The variants done by Matteo Scalera and Moreno Dinisio are a lot better, though I’m not too fond of their Bizarro. I’d love to see them as regular cover artists, or hopefully fill in artists when Dexter Soy needs a break.

Mild Mannered Reviews – Suicide Squad #2

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Suicide Squad #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 14, 2016

Cover date: November 2016

“The Black Vault” – Part 2

Writer: Rob William
Penciller: Jim lee
Inker: Scott Williams

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

The story so far… Amanda Waller has gathered a rag tag group of Super Villains for her task Force X program, more commonly known as The Suicide Squad.

The president of the United States has learned of Amanda Waller’s group and tells her that he’s shutting it down. Waller than explains the need for the program and the Squad itself, and asks for his help in finding a field team leader for the group in the form of Colonel Rick Flag. The President agrees and turns over the incarcerated Colonel Flag over to her.

After a successful mission, the Squad is in need of help, and are rescued by Colonel Flag, who extracts them from the Mongolian war zone, and takes them back to Belle Reve penitentiary.

Sometime later, The Squad is again dispatched, this time to the far North Pole to an underwater Russian facility, where there is said to be a “Game Changing” weapon (yes another one). Whilst on route, in their transport, Killer Croc starts suffering from motion sickness, and his transport suit helmet fills up with his own vomit. Rick Flag attempts to rescue Croc from drowning in his own waste, inadvertently throws the transport off course, hurtling them down toward the icy water.

The Squad crash land, and happen to actually make it to their destination via crashing nearby. Once inside, they rescue a prisoner held captive by the guards at the facility. The prisoner by the name of Hack has the ability to communicate with computers and can digitize herself and others and teleport. Hack does so with the entire Squad to The Black Vault (where the weapon is being kept).

Once they all get there, The Squad discover the vault houses a giant spherical object. Hack explains to Rick Flag that the computers in the room are telling her that the scientist studying the object often heard voices from the object, most commonly heard the word… Phantom Zone!

Rick Flag realizing what they’ve stumbled onto, orders everybody to leave as quickly as possible. Captain Boomerang claiming to see something move inside the object gets closer to it, and is blasted away by a red fiery beam from the object. All that is left are Captain Boomerang’s smoldering boots.

The whole Squad stand and look in terror, as a voice comes from the sphere. Two hands rip their way out from it, and a large bearded man emerges saying, “Kneel before Zod!”…

4Story – 4: Two books. Two game changing weapons. Both Kryptonian.

This book is also only three issues in, but unlike Red Hood & The Outlaws, Suicide Squad hasn’t really pushed forward too much.

The Rebirth issue was primarily Amanda Waller recruiting Col. Rick Flag, with only a short appearance by The Squad.

Issues #1 and #2 are again the same story again. Amanda Waller gathering The Squad together and sending them on a mission. Most of issue #1 is The Squad being dropped to their target in a transport, and issue #2 is them getting into the facility.

The story is obviously very much decompressed, and feels like the first issue of the original Suicide Squad series being stretched out over multiple issues.

The line-up for The Squad is very similar to that of the recent film released a few months earlier. The only missing members are El Diablo and Slipknot… Surprisingly these are the two members that die in the movie.

However in saying that, I did not expect, long time regular of the Squad, Captain Boomerang to die… Especially in the way he did too. He always was a favorite of mine, the comedy relief, but the one guy that would stab anyone he could in the back, if it served his purpose. Rob Williams threw me for a loop. And just when I thought it was getting predictable.

I don’t really have much else to say, so I’ll get to the main point… General Zod!

Who would have thought, that a book like Suicide Squad, would feature General Zod? That’s what I’m loving about rebirth. The last time we saw Zod was back in the Superman/Wonder Woman title during the New 52. So it’s interesting that he would turn up here. But more importantly, how is he there? Shouldn’t Superman have the Phantom Zone (sphere) in the Fortress of Solitude? I mean we saw that he had fashioned a Phantom Zone projector in the pages of Action Comics, when he used it on Doomsday. And also more importantly, how is Zod able to escape it in the fashion that he does? Questions to which answers I hope we get soon.

Another more important question is, how did Rick Flag know what the Phantom Zone was? I didn’t think that Superman would have made it public or at least government knowledge that such a place/device was in his possession, and how would a colonel that served in the U.S army know about it?

I’m really intrigued by this, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out. How are The Squad going to stop an angry power hungry Kryptonian? And what will Superman do when he finds out that they let Zod loose?

The backup features a good addition, seeing as how the main story is shorter than usual, most probably for Jim Lee’s sake. I like that Deadshot/Floyd Lawton was inspired by Batman to don a costume and become an assassin for hire.

The Captain Boomerang back up was quite funny. I loved that he saw himself as a hero, and made up a farfetched story about him being an Australian Secret Agent.

Like I said, this book has a very slow start, but we seem to be getting into the meat of things now. Really looking forward to the next chapter.
5Art – 5: What can I say about the art, when Jim Lee is doing the art chores? Jim Lee is a legend, and I’m honored to finally be able to review a book with his art. I’ve been a big fan of his since the 90s, and he still injects the same amount of magic now, as he did then. I love the action sequences in the book, be it The Squad in the transport free fall or the scene where Katana and Harley are making short work of the Russian guards in the Black Vault facility. Jim Lee makes it look really cinematic.

Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m a fan boy that thinks Jim Lee can do no wrong, ill point out that he may be a master at visual storytelling, but he still falls into his usual traps of making his pages look like pin ups, and the character body languages speak “I’m striking a pose”, as opposed to looking natural in the scene.

Another thing is that Lee still puts in way too much detail at times, especially in his costume designs. Deadshot’s mask is a good example. It’s essentially the same as the New 52 redesign, which was also done by Lee back when that started. The simplicity and elegance of his original mask is gone. And this new look just seems off. Even Will Smith’s mask in the film looked better. But I digress. Some people actually dig the new look. So I will just say. It’s not my favorite look, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.

I like that Harley Quinn is wearing pants instead of the booty shorts she had in the film. It’s a much more modest look.

I remember back when Batman: Hush came out back in the 2000s I hated the look Lee gave Killer Croc in that book. I like the more original look he’s gone with here.

Though we only saw Zod for one page, he looked quite menacing. Jim Lee drew Zod in the tail end of his 12 issue Superman storyline “For Tomorrow”. In it, Zod was much older looking, and his armor resembled that of something from Lord of the Rings. Here Zod looks menacing, and much more traditional with his goatee and slicked back hair. Should be interesting to see what Zod looks like next issue, with the full reveal!

The backup feature art by Jason Fabok in issue #1 is on par with Jim Lee’s work. That’s the highest compliment I can give it. He seems like a natural fit with Lee’s style.

The issue #2 back up featured art by Ivan Reis. And I don’t need to tell you what a great artist he is. I’m glad that DC has a stable of good artists, with Jim Lee, Ivan Reis and Jason Fabok in the top 3.

The Rebirth Special featured art by Phillip Tan, who had adjusted his style to match Lee’s so well, it had you scratching your head t times. Hats off to you good sir.

Of course I must mention the superb colors by Alex Sinclair and the respected inkers that these Super Star penciller’s often collaborate with.

5Cover Art – 5: All the covers feature Harley Quinn quite prominently. Which is understandable, seeing as how she is the most popular character from the book, as well as the DCU as a whole.

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Kal L
Kal L
September 20, 2016 11:24 pm

“Kneel Before Zod”
Possibly one of the best catchphrases in comics… I’d say scarier than “Hulk Smash”.