Wes Reads DC Universe: Rebirth #1: A Universe Reborn

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 Cover

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 has arrived after months of anticipation as to what DC Rebirth would entail. This was already going to be a special book as it launched DC Rebirth but even more so as this book is kind of event is what Geoff Johns thrives on. Johns is a rare breed of writer that excels on stories that tend to put things back in place and still managing to make it a good read. In my own case I’ve been excited for this book since it was announced and overall the entire DC Rebirth line. Now I have read DC Universe: Rebirth and mostly processed all of the events within the book. There is going to be much discussion in the months to come about this book and in turn throughout the entire DC Rebirth line itself. DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is a book that is huge on many accounts as there is a few surprises that I didn’t expect to see as somehow I managed to dodge a few spoilers as this book was about to launch. As I have been someone who has enjoyed a lot of DC Comics over the years, this one was special to me as well as I have always wanted to embrace the DCU the way I have in the past. It was a hit or miss affair with me and the New 52 and I had to wonder what DC Universe: Rebirth would have in store for me as well as other comic fans, apparently more than anyone imagined.

(Take note, from here on I am going to spoil the living nightmare out of DC Universe: Rebirth, this is your spoiler warning so if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. You have been warned.)

Not sure how much reviewing there will be here for DC Universe: Rebirth as to put it bluntly I liked it, yet I will say it shows no mercy for new readers. That is probably the only criticism I have, it is a good read but if you are new to the DCU then you are going to have an adventure on your hands as a new reader. There are parts where it is easy to dive into in the aspects of the intros to the Blue Beetle series, Green Lantern, and so forth, but the Superman stuff is going to fly the heck over some heads, pun not intended. The fascinating aspect of DC Universe: Rebirth is how insane Geoff Johns went with it, this is some high level DC deep cutting in the best ways possible. We got Legion of Super Heroes getting set back up with Saturn Girl making an appearance and then Johnny Thunder appearing again in a rest home and getting the Justice Society of America seed in place. Destroying Pandora from the New 52 and restoring Wally West back to the DC Universe as a Flash once more. DC Rebirth has only started to play the game though as there is one bit that will likely be discussed heavily in the months to come, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen is a major force in DC Universe.

There is a simple statement to be gotten out of DC Universe: Rebirth as it explores everything within the DCU and uses Dr. Manhattan and  Ozymandias as Manhattan is talking to Adrian Veidt at the end. The Dr. Manhattan bit explains why Pandora, who created the New 52, was killed the way she was. I actually didn’t think about that part until later when I put the Dr. Manhattan pieces together. Geoff Johns went heavy into DC Continuity here and adding Watchmen characters to the mix is huge as no one could have seen this coming. Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias working together on some massive DC Universe style attack or is there more to it? We’ll learn more over the coming years as it seems this is a slow burn sort of situation with the Watchmen being involved in this. I never thought we would be in a world where the Watchmen would be used in this way but here we are.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 Splash Page

DC Universe: Rebirth does one major thing right though, it unites the DC Universe once more. Everything is connected and legacy is fully restored to the DCU. There is much to dissect in the coming months and years as to where this will all go. That Johns managed to make this into a good story is an impressive feat in itself. This is why I’ve been saying this comic is insane but in a good way. Yes, the New 52 is for all intents and purposes dead. This is a DC Universe built on the foundation of the old universe and taking aspects of the New 52, while killing the bits that everyone hated. This is DC Comics welcoming back its old fans and saying come back to us. While welcoming new ones to a point, this isn’t the most new reader friendly book but it tries, by golly it tries. As it tries, there are many factors that still welcome in new readers in the introductions to new and exciting concepts within the story.

Take note of this too, the entire art team involved in this series worked wonder in making Geoff Johns vision for DC Universe: Rebirth come to life. Ivan Reis, Gary Grank, Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, and more all did such great work here. It’s easy to let all the tremendous work of the art team get lost in the monumental achievement this comic is. I would feel terrible in letting their contributions go unnoticed here as there is some great art in the mix of the powerful amount of story lying within these 80 pages.

DC Universe: Rebirth is a comic that by all intents and purposes shouldn’t work as well as it does. Geoff Johns has done Green Lantern and The Flash smoothly but this was the entire DC Universe, this was on paper a herculean effort. Somehow though, Johns made the whole comic book work. It’s not perfect but for what it does it is impressive. Got me excited about DC Rebirth and happy to see what else DC Comics has in store over the coming years. An amazing experience and one that will be talked about for years to come.

 

Wes Reads Thunderbolts #1: A Good Surprise Gets You Everywhere

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Cover

Thunderbolts is a series that means a lot to me. It was one of the first books I got into when I started reading comics again. I have given every iteration of Thunderbolts a shot over the years. Every version of the team had a unique style to it that love or hate, you can never say that it didn’t take chances in one way or another. The original Thunderbolts was the Masters of Evil pretending to be heroes and along the way some of them realizing they like being heroes. This time around the Thunderbolts have sprouted out of the events of Avengers Standoff with Winter Soldier (James “Bucky” Barnes”) leading the team of Moonstone, Atlas, The Fixer, and Mach-X, so a good mix of old and new in this team. On paper this is one of the better ways to revive the team, especially after Standoff went over well with a lot of fans. The team has come together to clean up the mess left in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their experiment in imprisoning villains, Pleasant Hill. There’s much more than that in the mix too, but we’ll get into more of that as I talk more about my thoughts on this new Thunderbolts book. As this book while having similar touches to the classic Thunderbolts, there is a couple new ideas in the mix that surprised me.

To begin with if you haven’t read Avengers Standoff yet, you’re fine. Jim Zub sums up the event smoothly, Zub gives you everything you need to know within the first few pages. The team dynamic is easy to dive into for older readers of the series and if you’re new to it, the dynamics are made clear to you. It shows a team that knows how to work with one another yet Moonstone is still that wild card of the team.  I like how Zub captures the dynamic of the original team and working with Bucky, comfortable and exciting all at the same time. Bucky is the outsider and now leader of the Thunderbolts, making life interesting for this new team. It adds a new quirk outside of the major addition to the team which is Kobik, the energy of the cosmic cube brought to life as a four year old girl. I had no idea Kobik was involved in this series but it works and I am pleasantly surprised by that. Even if you haven’t read Standoff, you know what Kobik can do and why she means so much to the team. Kobik is so likable and you see how she fits in. Take note though, she is a kid yet she is pure cosmic cube energy so that can play out in many fun and surprising ways.

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Splash Page

The tone of the comic is a good mix of action, comedy, and a good dose of high end drama here and there. The blend of tones work well as it seems the revivals of Thunderbolts over the years have trended too dark and this has the right balance. I can tell Zub is already on his way to finding the right tone on this series. Which is where we dive into the one thing that I feel works but for some it may not, the art. Jon Malin was an artist I first discovered on his work in Youngblood and I liked it, quite a lot. That same energy that was within Youngblood that shines well here. In fact there’s more energy to it, the opening double page splash is filled with action, unabashed firepower, and pure excitement. A nice way to follow up the moody and strong opening page that shows the team preparing for the mission, enhanced by the strong coloring of Matt Yackey. Nice dark tones to set the mood and then a blast of color on that double page spread that is enough to knock your socks off. Malin and Yackey work well with the tone that Zub is aiming for, a classic action story but with humor and some dark twists to boot.

A big part of what caught my eye about Thunderbolts and my excitement for this new run is the final page. No spoilers here my friends as this final page is adding a nice amount of unpredictability to the proceedings. It’s why I did a tweet about it before this review, I had to let out that reaction fast. People are going to quibble about the art and I say give it a chance, this is some good storytelling here and a lot of fun, and that ending is going to blow your mind and have you begging for the next issue. Welcome back to my pull list Thunderbolts and to a new group of readers discovering the Thunderbolts in the process, this series is already rocking and rolling from the start.