DC comics


Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 18-21, Annual #1, and Batman/Superman #8-9.

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Writers: Paul Levits, Greg Pak

Artists: R. B. Silva, Scott McDaniel, Diogenes Neves, Jae Lee

This was a pretty good collection, although issue 18, the first one, was the last issue in the previous collection. Karen’s powers are out of control. She and Hel fight a new threat, a girl whose tattoos come to life.

Next is my favorite story in the collection: the adventures of Robin and Supergirl. This is set on Earth-2 where Helena is Robin and fights alongside her dad, Batman. Karen is still in hiding because her cousin Superman wants to keep her a secret weapon against Darkseid’s forces. But both girls long to be more independent, so they set out on their own.

Next starts the First Contact crossover, where the Huntress and the Power Girl finally meet Batman and Superman. Karen’s unstable powers worry Helena more and more. She finally asks for help from this world’s Batman. He’s younger than her dad and while they have similarities, they also have differences. Helena breaks into the Batcave. Bruce doesn’t want to believe her claims, but his instincts tell him that she’s telling the truth. So, he and Hel fly (on a Batplane) to see Karen, whose powers are making her a danger to everyone around her. She’s so much out of control that Superman must intervene.

However, whatever is affecting Karen infects Clark, too. Bruce must take him out with kryptonite. Then Hel and Bruce start tracing the nanobits that are affecting the Kryptonians. The team-up is pretty interesting. Hel and Karen can’t help but to compare the men they know to this world’s doubles. Clark and Bruce are younger than their counterparts. Bruce doesn’t trust anyone and not even his own instincts. He wants logic to back up his hunches. Clark doesn’t really trust Hel and Karen, but he still does his best to help Karen. While the story is fight-heavy (since it’s a superhero comic…) we get some very interesting character interaction and even growth. This was a good ending to the Karen’s powers are unstable plotline. Unfortunately, I’ve already read Batman/Superman vol. 2 Game Over where the story is also printed.

Collects Worlds’ Finest issues 6-12.

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Writer: Paul Levitz

Artists: Kevin Macguire, George Perez, Cafu, Cliff Richards, Yildiray Cinar, Ken Lashely, Barry Kitson, Geraldo Borges, Robson Rocha

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2013

The series that portrays best friends Helena Wayne, the Huntress, and Karen Starr, the Power Girl, continues! They’re from Earth 2 which was devastated by Darkseid’s forces and now they’re looking for a way back. This collection has shorter stories, each two issues, which seem at first disconnected from each other. Also, the final issues concentrate on the disappearence of Michael Holt which happened in the Mr. Terrific’s comic. I didn’t even know Power Girl and Mr. Terrific were dating.

In the first issue, Helena has broken into Wayne Industries to ”borrow” money for her next identity, but she’s ambushed by the new Robin, Damien. They battle, of course. Meanwhile, Karen is in space putting something on Morgan Edge’s satellite. When Helena is in trouble with Damien, Karen interferes and Damien finally listens. It seems that someone is stealing millions every week from Wayne industries. Damien and the women agree to track down the perp.

The next issue is the team-up. Robin and the Huntress go north and battle wolves while tracking down a lead, while the Power Girl goes to Mali where she’s confronted by children who have apparently energy weapons from Apokolips.

In the next issue, assassins are after Helena. It seems that Ibn Hassan (whom I haven’t heard of before) put a large prize on her head. She’s shot and beaten so she’s confined to bed. While Karen hunts down the man who is responsible for the prize, Helena reminiscences about her life on Earth 2 when Batman and Catwoman, her parents, trained her.

Next, a group of mercenaries invades Starr Island, Karen’s home. Wounded Helena defends Karen’s staff against them.

Karen and Hel find out that Michael Holt is behind the assault on Karen’s home. But he disappeared a while ago, after he and Karen split up. Helena looks for clues in Holt Industries. But when someone systematically attacks Karen’s labs, she and Hel go on the offensive. Finally, the villain behind their troubles is revelaed.

This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but I still mostly enjoyed it and I’m eager to read the next one. I again enjoyed the friendship between Helena and Karen. Their personalities are quite different. Hel has been taught how to stay invisible, while Karen enjoys the spotlight, playing her role as a billionaire industrialist. Hel is cool under fire while Karen is brash. However, I dislike Damien and the stories were a bit too disjointed. Also, I found it strange that I’ve never heard of Ibn Hassan or Karen dating Mr. Terrific so those storylines left me cold. The last story ends in a cliffhanger.

However, the complex relationship between Hel and Damien was done well. Neither has ever had a sibling. Yet, they grew to sort of care about each other. I also really enjoyed the glimpses of Hel’s parents and her life with them.

I liked most of the artwork. Perez’s work is as gorgeous as ever but Macguire did most of the work. His more rounded style works well for the Power Girl. However, the fill-in artists’ styles were very different from them which was a little distracting.

Collects four Elseworlds stories in one volume.

Writers: Brian Augustyn, Mark Waid, Jon Bogdanove, Judith Kurzer Bogdanove, John Byrne, Chuck Dixon

Artists: Alcatena, John Byrne, Humberto Ramos, Jon Staton

Publisher: DC

These were fun stories taking our heroes to alternate times and places.

First is the ballad of Leatherwing the pirate. He sails on the Spanish Main, a masked man who robs the Spanish galleons for the English King James. He needs to keep his identity a secret. But the Laughing Man, another pirate captain, has found a way to steal all of Leatherwing’s riches. He requires help from the beautiful Capitana Felina who was once a countess but now a pirate.

The second is Byrne’s alternate Superman story. This time, Gar-El a power-hungry Kryptonian, ends on Earth, in England in 1768. At first, he agrees to serve George III. A couple of years later, certain colonists are trying to get independence, but Gar-El prevents that. Then the story moves to Gar-El’s great-great-great etc. grandson Kal-El. By that time, Gar-El has made himself the sovereign of all Earth. A peaceful empire where he and his army ruthlessly crackdown on everyone who even speaks against him. Kal-El doesn’t care for that and tries to find a way to help the humans.

The third is the best of the bunch, set on a slave plantation during the Civil War. John Henry is the childhood friend of his master’s son, Arthur. While John Henry would like to study, Arthur hates it and blames John Henry for the little misfortunes in his life. Arthur lives up to become a cruel master who tries to break John Henry’s independent spirit.

The last one is ”Citizen Wayne”. It starts when the lifeless bodies of district attorney Harvey Dent and newspaper owner Bruce Wayne are found. Both wearing strange costumes. A young assistant DA investigates both Dent, who was passionate about the law and ridding Gotham of crime boss Maroni, and Wayne who owned a lot of businesses but chose to crusade against criminals on the pages of his newspaper. The DA questions aged Martha Wayne and a couple of more familiar people such as the former commissioner Gordon who is now in a wheelchair because of a crippling incident.

I tend to enjoy alternate universes and these were all good.

Collects The Flash: Rebirth #1 and The Flash #1-8.

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Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe

Barry Allen is the fastest man alive, but he’s always late for work and running off in the middle of a date. If you’re familiar with Barry and his problems, this collection doesn’t bring anything new, but for me, it rehashes familiar material pretty well. However, it’s a good introduction for people who haven’t read the Flash before.

First off, Wally West is back and he brings news to Barry that someone has changed the world and the memories of the people. Barry talks with Batman who has already noticed it. They agree to investigate, but secretly. Wally’s storyline continued in Teen Titans comic and the other storyline continues in the miniseries Button.

Issues 1-8 have a story arc that focuses on multiple speedsters and brings a new villain to mess with Barry. These issues also have a different Wally.

Barry has a new best friend, Detective August Heart. He also has a new romantic interest, a scientist at S.T.A.R. labs. He feels that he’s not fast enough to protect everyone… and then a Speed Force Storm appears over the city and strikes several people. They all now have speed powers, but don’t know how to use them.

It was fun to see Barry training the new speedsters and he enjoys his new role, too. Of course, not all of the new speedsters are good and some don’t even want them. And of course one of them is the new villain.

I mostly enjoyed this new beginning but I still prefer the Flash TV show. Barry himself is pretty much the same heroic character but his supporting cast here is much smaller. While the mystery of the new villain was interesting, his motivations were quite a cliche. Also, there’s a twist with the new speedsters, but unfortunately it only came up when convenient for the story and was ignored at other times.

Collects Green Lanterns issues 1-6.

Writer: Sam Humphries

Artists: Ethan van Sciver, Ed Benes, Robson Rocha, Jay Leinstein, Tom Derenick, Jack Herbert, Neil Edwards, Eduardo Pansica, Will Conrad

Publisher: DC

This is the Rebirth Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. They’re both very new to GLs and struggling with both their new powers and duties. Jessica is pretty open that she doesn’t think she’s worth the ring. She has an anxiety disorder and didn’t leave her home for years. She also feels guilty, because her friends died (murdered in some other comic I think) and she ran away and lived. Simon also feels guilty about causing a car accident that left his sister’s husband in a coma for years. His sister doesn’t blame Simon, though. Simon has little experience with the ring but Jessica has none and she can’t even form objects with it. He thinks that she’s a screw-up and she simply doesn’t like him.

In the first issue, we get a little glimpse of their lives and personalities before the ring calls them to action. Hal appears to inform that he’s leaving Earth and they must work as partners. He also claims that the JLA will train the duo. Unfortunately, the training didn’t happen.

Next, our heroes are thrust to action trying to round up aliens. When they find instead a lair of a serial killer, the people in the town are justifiably angry. But their anger grows to unnatural rage. That’s the effect of Rew Dawn, the big threat in this volume. Jess and Simon must find out the source of the rage and put a stop to it.

Both GLs are rookies just learning to use their rings. Simon knows more about it than Jess, though. Both also have very strong inner demons to wrestle with. It was interesting to see a superhero with an anxiety disorder but I’m don’t know if it was handled well. At one point Jess was almost paralyzed with fear but then she just talked herself out of it, which a bit seemed strange. The way that the woman was the anxiety and fear-driven wreck and also a total rookie and the man is an overconfident hotshot who teaches the woman how her own ring works is… well, it’s nothing new. The characters are fine but surprisingly old school. I rather liked their supporting cast. Jessica’s sister is supportive. Simon’s sister’s family supports him.

I’ve only seen these characters in the Rebirth JLA but they seemed to be created before Rebirth, because both have lots of history which are only briefly explored in this volume. I’m also not familiar with the Red Dawn duo of Bleez and Atrocitus. We get Bleez’s tragic backstory which was nice.

The art team is very variable. But their styles work together enough that the changing artists didn’t really bother me.

I feel that this comic was done for long-time GL readers rather than someone new. But I still mostly enjoyed it. Both characters must struggle with their inner demons while they battle very powerful enemies and try to work together.

Collects Superwoman issues 1-7 (Rebirth).

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Writer: Phil Jimenez

Artists: Phil Jimenez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Jack Herbert, Joe Prado, Matt Santorell, Ray McCarthy

When the original Superman of this timeline died exploding, Lana Lang and Lois Lane were near him. The women got powers from the explosion. Lois got powers similar to Superman and Lana got electricity powers. Lois wants to be Superwoman, to continued Clark’s work but Lana doesn’t.

However, Lois convinces Lana to train her. Then Lois starts her career as Superwoman.

Lex Luthor is Metropolis’ new Superman. He uses an armored suit and he has built a huge battleship called the Gestalt to battle (other) supervillains. But when he unveils it to the people in Metropolis bay, someone takes over it. Both Lois and Lana are needed to try to prevent the mysterious person from taking over Gestalt and perhaps the whole world.

I really liked the dynamic between Lois and Lana. They aren’t friends, they don’t even like each other, but they’ve lost Clark. Lois wants to protect the world to keep up his legacy. Lana doesn’t want to do any superhero stuff but she agrees to train Lois. In the end, Lana does take up the mantle of Superwoman and help Lois. I was really interested in seeing what happens between them. That’s why I was very disappointed with the end of the first issue, hoping it wouldn’t be true.

So instead of the (more interesting?) storyline I was expecting we got a story about how Lana’s powers are killing her and she must overcome her fear to function. After Clark’s death, she started having panic attacks and she’s afraid that everyone she loves will die. She’s an engineer but is now a science reporter. However, that wasn’t really relevant to the story. She’s in a relationship with Steel, John Henry Irons. She clearly loves him but she’s also afraid that he will die and she’s trying to push him to the side to protect him. Or her own feelings.

I really enjoyed Lana’s supporting cast of Steel and his genius inventor niece Natasha. I also rather enjoyed the ghost. Traci 13 seemed interesting but I don’t know her. Maggie Sawyer appears as the Captain of Metropolis’ Special Crimes Unit. Lex’s newfound obsession with becoming a superhero was interesting.

The storyline jumps some days or weeks forward at one point. I think that could have been clearer. Also, at some point, Lana was telling us (in recap boxed) about things she couldn’t know, which was really strange. Also, it ends in a cliffhanger.

Most of the art is done by Jimenez and I love it. The fill-in artists weren’t too different, either.

While I didn’t like everything about the comic, I enjoyed it.

Collects The Brave And The Bold: Batman And Wonder Woman issues 1-6.

Writer: Liam Sharpe

Artist: Liam Sharpe

Bruce and Diana must find out who killed King Elthe of the Formors.

Diana is taking a deserved vacation with Steve Trevor. They’re in bed when the old Celtic god Lord Cernunnos appears through a magical portal. He wants Diana to negotiate peace between two warring factions of old gods: the demonic-looking Fomorians and the more human-seeming De Dannan. They have hidden away from humans in Tir Na Nog for hundreds of years. But they’ve become restless and the home has become a prison for them. They are old enemies and now they’ve started fighting again. Cernunnos is the only one who can leave Tir Na Nog. Diana agrees to help.

Meanwhile, something strange is going on in the Irish Quarter of Gotham City. The people there seem lethargic and haunted. Batman of course investigates and strange dreams or spirits haunt him, too.

The third plot thread is around an old homeless Irish man who has lost everything pursuing old Irish legends.

When Cernunnos takes Diana to Tir Na Nog, they find out that king Elatha is dead, murdered. Elatha is the king of the Fomors although he looks like a human. Both his people and the De Dannan loved and respected him. Elatha’s right-hand man captain Furf blames the boy who found the king. However, Diana manages to stop the lynching of the boy and calls for a proper investigation. Only Batman can find out the culprit.

This was a fun read and I enjoyed it a lot. The art is gorgeous with lots of little details and full-page panels.

The story has a narrator who constantly refers to bad things happening in the future, but we don’t find out who that is until the end. Sharpe draws from the Irish myths and it really shows here. On the other hand, the new characters leave Bruce and Diana in their shadow, which clearly displeased many readers. The story also starts slowly with Cernunnos explaining the history of the two factions to Diana. Also, the ending was very open, begging for continuation.

The two warring factions are quick to take offense and use any excuse to fight. Diana must continually play peace-maker between them which was nice. Bruce insists that magic is just science they don’t know yet, which is very much in character for him.

Collects Batman/Superman issues 16-20, Batman/Superman Annual 2, and Batman/Superman: Future’s End 1.

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Adrian Syaf, Tom Derenick, Tyler Kirkham, Ian Churchill, Emanuela Lupacchino, Cliff Richards, Jack Herbert, Vicente Cifuentes

Publisher: DC

Publishing year: 2015

The main storyline takes up most of the collection. Someone shoots Supergirl, Steele, and Krypto without a trace. Even Superman can’t see who did it. Worse, an innocent man wearing a Superman costume is killed. Then people Superman has saved in the past are killed. Clark must find out who is doing this. Bruce thinks it’s “Superman’s Joker”: a psychopath with an obsession with Superman. Bruce and Clark must find out who is behind it, and quickly.

This was quite an entertaining mystery and adventure story. I’m not a huge fan of psychopath villains, but this time it worked. I didn’t see where the story was going and enjoyed it. It was personal for Clark to begin with and became even more personal. I also really enjoyed Lois and Bruce working together, even if briefly.

In the annual, the previous story’s mastermind can influence the minds of others. He sends a compulsion to some of Batman’s enemies to kill Clark Kent.

Meanwhile, Clark is in Bahamas investigating the damage that Doomsday did to the local ecology and people. As a reporter. Bruce is trying to convince him to switch to Superman’s outfit. When Clark arrives, something triggers an explosion, and he decides to use his new “solar flare” ability, which allows him to clean up the explosion safely, but leaves him powerless for 24 hours. He falls to Earth near town. Locals are raiding the buildings for food and medicine. Clark tries to convince them that he’s there to help, when ManBats attack.

In this story, Clark must fight and run from enemies because he’s powerless. He still wants to help and defend the local people. The story shows his personality well. When Batman shows up, he’s convinced that without his powers, Clark can’t make it. The story has a couple of nice scenes between Bruce and Clark.

The final issue is set five years in the future. Apparently, JLA has fought off an invasion from space. During it, Bruce forced Clark to do something so terrible that Clark faked his own death and abandoned Earth and his friends. Bruce is trying to fight Clark’s enemies in power armor and waiting for Clark to return. A really dark and pessimistic story, which was very different from the others.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this collection, except for the last story.

Collects World’s Finest issues 0-6.

Writer: Paul Levitz

Artists: George Pérez, Kevin Maguire

Publisher: DC

Publication year: 2013

In the New 52 universe, Huntress and Power Girl are from Earth 2. Huntress is Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman. But in that universe, Selena Kyle wasn’t a criminal. Power Girl is Kara, Superman’s cousin, and in Earth 1 she takes the identity of Karen Starr, a billionaire known for buying tech companies. The seed money came from Helena when she hacked this world’s Bruce Wayne’s companies’ accounts. Helena works in the shadows using several identities. On Earth 2, they were heroes, Robin and Supergirl. In this world, they’re trying to find a way back home and also doing heroic works.

The story starts five years after Helena and Karen have come to Earth 1, accidentally. A superpowered man, Hakkou, attacks one of Karen’s companies. He gives off radioactivity, which affects even Karen. He destroys Karen’s pet project, which was supposed to open a portal to another dimension, to Earth 2. Karen and Helena pursue him and the fight continues for three issues and a couple of continents.

We also get flashbacks both to Karen and Helena’s life on Earth 2 and to right after Hel and Karen came to Earth 1, accidentally. The heroes of Earth 2 faced Darkseid – and fell. Karen still hopes to get back and save whom she can. Helena has given up hope of that, but supports her friend loyally.

Levitz writes in a classic superhero style, and I like it very much. Helena and Karen are brave heroes who think of others before themselves. Because of her near invulnerability, Karen can and does often fly brashly in. Batman trained Helena, so she’s the more tactically trained one. They were best friends before they were thrown into this strange world, and now they can only rely on each other. With this premise, the comic could well be dark. But it’s not. Hel and Karen tell jokes to lighten up the mood.

As a bonus, we also see their first meeting on Earth 2.

However, Karen’s clothing is often torn to shreds, which is a tiresome troupe. Also, Hakkou isn’t particularly memorable villain. The dialog also equates ugly with evil, which I really didn’t care for. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the comic focusing on two superheroines.

The art styles of Pérez and Maguire are very different. Perez draws the present story and Maguire the past which works well, at least for me.

Collects Batman/Superman issues 10-15.

Writers: Greg Pak, Jeff Lemire

Artists: Karl Kerschel, Scott Hepburn, Tom Derenick, Daniel Sampere, Tom Raney, Ken Lashley, Jae Lee, Diegones Neves, Marc Neering

This is a collection of stories which don’t have much to do with each other. In the first story, Batman has collapsed. With his microscopic vision, Superman first finds a tiny dead man is in Batman’s brain’s blood vessels. And then a whole tiny alien city! Superman contacts Dr. Palmer. He shrinks them and they go into Batman’s brain! They encounter the aliens and, of course, battle them.

This was loads of fun! The premise is, of course, ridiculous but I throughly enjoyed it. Also, I love Ray Palmer in Legends of Tomorrow, so it was very nice to see him in the New 52 universe.

The next story is actually the first part of a Doomsday story, but the story doesn’t continue in this collection. Superman is out of control because Doomsday has poisoned him. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Steele go to the Fortress of Solitude. Doomsday escaped from the Phantom Zone, so our heroes head to the Zone as well, hoping to find a cure from there. Of course, the Zone is full of villains and monsters whom Superman has sent there… and they’re not co-operative.

This story doesn’t work as a stand-alone. If the continuation was impossible to print here, I think it should have been left out. Now, it’s almost like an ad for Superman: Doomed. I did enjoy Batman and Diana working together in the Phantom Zone.

The next stories continue from volume one and the Powergirl/Huntress story from volume two. First, Bruce and Clark encounter Kaiyo the Chaos bringer again. This time she sends them to Earth 2 and they have a chance to change just one thing. Bruce and Clark hesitate while they witness the final moments of Earth 2’s heroes.

Kaiyo isn’t impressed with them and so she strips Bruce and Clark of their memories, and sends them to Gotham City, separately. Immediately, Clark sees a giant robot trying to catch Catwoman, and helps her. She quickly realized that he’s lost his memory and gleefully takes advantage of that. Meanwhile, Bruce is getting to know his life and meets Lois Lane.

This was an interesting story. Without his memories, Bruce is a far less dark and far less determined. He’s still heroic and tries to help the people around him. But for some reason, Clark tries to take over Gotham. So, without the influence of Ma and Pa Kent, Clark would be a tyrant? I’m not sure I buy that. More light-hearted Bruce makes perfect sense, though. I was almost sorry to see him return to his default mood.

Like the previous one, this collection has a lot of artists. Mostly, their styles are pretty similar, but Jae Lee’s art is, again, very distinctive.

But I enjoyed most of the stories here, with the exception of the ending of the second one.

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