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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 10 comics last week: Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, Amazing Spider-Man #1.5, DC Universe Rebirth #1, Superman #52, Lois and Clark #8, Doctor Strange #8, Star Wars #18, Grayson #20, Justice League #50 and Batgirl #52.
The best comic I read last week was DC Universe Rebirth #1.
Let’s start here: the less said about Captain America: Steve Rogers, the better. “Hail Hydra?” No thanks, Marvel. That “revelation” won’t even get me to issue number 2.
Justice League #50 was terrific, just a perfect capper to a wonderful arc and a great way to usher out the “New 52” and usher in a new status quo. It was my second favorite book of the week.
The best book of the week (and, at this point, bar none my favorite book of the year) was DC Universe Rebirth #1. I’ve read this book being described as a quintessential DC Comics book and I agree. It is both quintessential and essential.
The art team of Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Phil Jimenez draws the living hell out of this book. There is nothing left to chance in any panel by any of the artists and I really had the feeling looking at their work that they knew they were illustrating something very special and that they were elevating their already impressive games. These are four artists I’ve always enjoyed and four who’ve put their own distinctive stamps on DC’s biggest heroes. They really come through here and they were perfectly selected. Likewise, the chapters of the book they handled were perfectly selected as well. Unless the gravity of this book could have convinced George Perez to illustrate it or reanimated Curt Swan or Jim Aparo, DC found the perfect people to draw this one. The book looked like a DC book, cover-to-cover.
And, without question, it read like a DC book. I won’t extol the virtues of writer Geoff Johns again here as I have done many, many times in many, many other posts. If this is his swan song from comics for the time being, suffice it to say he goes out on a VERY high note. Having publicly stated that the DC Universe needing some fixing, Johns actually comes through and fixes it.
Centering the story on a lost and forgotten hero (and a childhood favorite of mine – though I don’t think that my feelings about the character were central to Johns’ plans), Johns does what Johns does best: he brings an epic story down to a empathetic level for the reader. We’ve all felt lost. We’ve all felt forgotten. We’ve all felt powerless. Right up until the end of the issue, I was honestly afraid that this hero was going to remain lost. The stakes Johns fashioned felt that high.
The audible gasp I let out, though, was not for the resolution of the lost hero storyline, but the bold and brilliant revelation of the forces that have been manipulating the DC Universe. Not since Marvel hid the villains of the Thunderbolts in plain sight has a story so surprised, shocked and thrilled me.
I simply didn’t see it coming but, when it did, the end of DC Universe Rebirth promised the beginning of something incredible.
The follow up titles hitting the racks this week have a lot to live up to. Here’s hoping they succeed in the fine fashion that Johns, Frank, Van Sciver, Reis and Jimenez did. That would be quite the rebirth, indeed.