It’s a strange time in the land of DC Rebirth. By now most of the titles have reached the end of their story arc and we have now entered an issue or two of downtime to catch our breath in advance of some new story arcs coming on stream.
Now some have used this interim gap for some “cross-over action” so in part of the Bat-universe we are given Night of the Monster Men. I’m not sold on that story – having read the first three parts I think it would have worked as a Halloween cross-over but it’s not what I want to read and the story is too fantastical for my liking.
For me the real magic has appeared elsewhere in the changeover period and this post is aimed at highlighting some classic down-home, family and friends issues that hit the shelves last week. Those titles were Green Lanterns, Superman, and the inaugural issue of the new Trinity title showcasing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Superman was a great issue; which even people who haven’t been reading the series could pick up as a one-shot comic and indulge in the warm glow to be found in a traditional small town Americana storyline. This is where Clark and family go “down home” at the local fair, and Clark makes a solemn promise that the day will set aside be for the family. Hmmm says Lois, a likely story…
Before that however we have a beautiful set piece of Superman keeping watch over ‘his’ city, Metropolis as the sun rises over the cityscape. The image recalls my era of Superman when I was first captivated by the work of John Byrne on the title in the 1980s. On his subsequent return to the homestead the “Smith” clan decide that they’re going to mix with the locals and what better way to do this than in a trip to the local funfair. The artwork in this issue is a delight to behold, and the joy that is portrayed on young Jon’s face as he experiences the warm embrace of family and friends is wonderful.
The highlight of the book is seeing Lois’ face incrementally moving down vertical panels starting to show her annoyance at Clark as she finds out he’s broken his vow to leave his superhero antics to one side for the evening. I defy anyone to read this without at least a little chuckle to themselves at the contrast between Clark’s surprise at being rumbled, Lois’ annoyance at Clark, and the joy on Jon’s face as the revelation becomes apparent mid-rollercoater ride. Gleason and Tomasai at their finest.
The Trinity title plays with similar themes, of small town America and familial acceptance and comfort. This time it is the Superhero family we see begin to bond after the events of recent weeks. It is a consequence of a joint attempt by Lois and Diana to start to bring the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the fold of the Justice League leadership. We see Bruce and Diana show up at Lois and Clark’s door at the old Smith homestead for dinner- Jon inadvertently blasts Bruce off the front porch by accident, and thereafter Bruce is clothed in the most awful plaid shirt you can imagine, much to his chagrin. Bruce’s weak willed reluctance to enter into the spirit of things is mildly hilarious; you can tell he is teetering at the edges of thawing out with Clark, despite his misgivings. He over-compensates by being extra grumpy. I’m not too sure how this sits timing-wise with the loss of Tim Drake (see Detective Comics) but that issue does not darken the tone of this book too much and isn’t treated as central, so I suspect its set just prior to that; who knows?
Lois and Diana are starting to get over some awkwardness over their respective relationship complexities caused by the links between Diana and the New 52 Superman/Clark (as opposed to this Superman/Clark) which could have understandably played on Lois’ mind. All in all the blend between Lois and Diana’s efforts, Bruce’s grumpiness, Clark’s over compensating bonhomie and Jon’s overall giddiness at having some guests for a Super-dinner party make this issue priceless.
Then onto Green Lanterns which is great for highlighting that there are many different varieties of all American family in the 21st Century. The issue again centres on family, this time Simon Baz’s family and the issues that he has in trying to please his Mother who he respects and feels that he has let down with past struggles in his life. It is interesting to see the Muslim dynamic in the Baz family and this is made even more fascinating by the interaction they have with Jessica, who has to battle her anxiety issues to help support her partner in a time of personal need. She is initially freaked out by the prospect of being thrust into the heart of another family’s get-together; but she realises that she needs to be there for Simon who wants to let his mother know about his role as Green Lantern.
There’s an hilarious strand in the book involving Simon’s frustration at being unable to cook traditional cookies following a family recipe, and his worries about living up to the expected standards set by his Mother. At the end of the book Jessica has combated her anxiety, stood by her partner, and Simon is able to make it to the end of the discussion with his Mother having won her over to his new role in the world as a Green Lantern. She also loves his cookies. This issue was great; the dialogue and inner monologue employed was great and it’s such a fun book –one of the consistent highlights of the DC Rebirth process to date.
I think we all need a family of one sort or another and we forge a close relationship with these characters. It’s nice therefore to be brought into these family events and get-togethers as a reader amidst all the Bam! Pow! Wallop! of the traditional comic storyline. Remember these books are $2.99 – about the price of a cup of coffee. If you can get your hands on one that brings such a lot of joy in your life for such a small outlay, and the story is relatively self contained like in these three, then the value is there to be taken advantage of. I’d highly recommend these as one-off purchases; I doubt you’ll regret it.
[Michael’s Note: As always, I want to thank Andrew for sharing his brilliant thoughts about DC on the site…and for being the reason I now have DC comics in my pull list. I encourage everyone to follow/chat with him on Twitter and to read his Star Wars blog The Astromech Journal. You can also explore his new joint writing venture with other Star Wars bloggers where they discuss the Future of the Force. Basically, more of Andrew’s insights into your life makes it all better.]