This week the DC Universe is REBORN thanks to Geoff Johns, and Steve Rogers is back as Captain America!
DC Universe Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
This is it. Once again the hopes and dreams of the future of DC Comics rests on the shoulders of one man. No, not Superman, Geoff Johns! The master behind Sinestro Corps War, Infinite Crisis, and nearly every other major event at DC comics has brought us DC Universe Rebirth, the kick off of DC’s newest hope for taking back some of the comics market share that they so desperately need. Unfortunately, spoilers broke out about this bad boy over the weekend, and not even I was immune to them. But even though I know about the huge, “what the $&^#!” reveal, there are still plenty of interesting moments in this new one-shot issue that features art from Ethan Van Sciver, Gary Frank, and tons of other DC artists.
Wally West is back from the pre-Flashpoint era of DC, and can’t figure out why no one knows who he is, and why others can’t see him. He knows something is missing from this world (as he can’t account for the last 10 years), but he needs to get to someone who can help him get out of the speed force. West travels to see Batman, the New 52’s Linda Park (who’s his wife in Wally’s universe), and other areas of the DC universe until he finds Barry Allen, who is able to pull him out of the speed force and with that moment, reminds Barry of everything he had forgotten about the world. West then reveals the being responsible for what happened to them, and it’s……
Don’t worry; I’m not going to spoil the “big reveal”. But if you’ve been on any major comic sites, you know what it is, and to be honest, while it’s a big deal, it’s not as major as you expect. None of the characters hinted at make any appearances in Rebirth, but their presence is felt in a major way. Johns’ focus in this special is to reinstate a sense of hope and wonder to DC, and by and large he does, even if the book jumps around at a break neck pace. Johns plays catch up on not only the New 52 and Flashpoint, but also even goes as far back as events like Crisis On Infinite Earths. There’s a ton of material in Rebirth, but Johns keeps it all in check enough where it doesn’t completely fall apart.
DC Universe Rebirth’s greatest strength though is with the art. Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez and a host of other artists take turns handling the different “chapters” in Rebirth. All of them bring their absolute best to this issue, delivering some epic pages that definitely live up to what Geoff Johns is promising with this issue. There’s really not a bad artist in the bunch, and they all add to the importance of the issue.
At times, DC Rebirth gets almost too meta, but that’s also one of the best things about it. With this special, Geoff Johns calls out the super gritty and dark tone that superhero comics have had for the past 20 or so years (especially in the New 52), and directly challenges that notion. While I’m still not entirely sure exactly where the DC universe will be going after this, I actually like this feeling. Rebirth has set the stage for DC Comics to become the books that they should be, and so far this new initiative is off to a pretty strong start.
Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 (Marvel Comics)
After a successful movie and being restored to his youth, Steve Rogers returns in Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’s Steve Rogers: Captain America. While I haven’t been as into Spencer’s Sam Wilson series, I have to admit, there’s a lot to like in this issue. For those looking for more straight-forward Cap action, it’s hard to knock this as this opening issue has a lot of what Captain America fans love: Cap smacking Hydra goons with his shield. But there’s also a really major cliffhanger that may leave some scratching their heads.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Steve Rogers finds, well, Steve Rogers back in the Captain America suit. After the events of Avengers: Standoff, Rogers has been restored to his youthful self, and is ready to bring the hurt to a newly reborn Hydra. Under the watchful eye of the Red Skull, Hydra has become an even more hateful organization, this time adding race crimes to their long list of criminal activity. At a time when the nation is most divided, Red Skull has found the perfect way to gain followers, and it’s up to Cap to stop him.
Until I got to the last page, which is, quite frankly, one of the craziest cliffhangers this year. Of course it’s not going to stick, but it’s a good example of how Nick Spencer, who is awesome on books like Astonishing Ant-Man and The Fix, isn’t the best fit for this type of book. Sure, Steve Rogers starts off really strong, but there’s simply not enough set up to really make the “reveal” stick. Not only that, but there’s a weird sense of humor throughout the book. Having Rick Jones crack corny IT jokes is one thing, but once Cap comes across Baron Zemo and his “Masters of Evil” made up of D-listers, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. Zemo even says “toodles!” at one point. It seems like Spencer is still mastering the balancing act of humor and action in his books, and a lot of the humor in this issue seems out of place. Despite this, there are still some intriguing moments to be found in this issue, like an interesting look into Steve’s time with his mother in Brooklyn, and a great look into how a person could join up with Hydra.
Jesus Saiz’s art is the reason to pick this up. Saiz, who brings a real great sense of fluidity and motion to this issue, executes the action sequences that Spencer scripts out beautifully. It’s hard to think of a better fit for this issue to be honest. Saiz is so good that he even makes Cap’s new shield and costume look pretty cool, even if I still can’t buy that the new triangular design is superior to the classic round shield.
Steve Rogers Captain America is definitely forging a different path than previous volumes in Cap’s comic book history, and while I’m a little unsure of some of it, I have to admit, it does have potential. As weird as the cliffhanger is, I’ve gotta check out the next issue to see if it’s legit or not (I’m betting it’s a bait and switch). Hopefully Nick Spencer can find the balance between serious and comedic soon with Steve Rogers: Captain America. Once he does, we may have a pretty stellar Captain America series on our hands again.