Welcome back to Around the DC Universe, Graphic Policy’s regular examination of the best and worst content on DC Entertainment’s premier streaming service.
For the next few weeks DC Universe will be expanding their selection of issues from the original run of The New Teen Titans (1980) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in the lead up to the premier of the Titans TV series (the first episode drops October 12th). DC is being cagey about how long issues will remain on the service so my recommendation is to read them as soon as possible because they are really good. Wolfman’s writing, while somewhat dated, holds up better than any of his contemporaries (with the possible exception of Chris Claremont) and Perez’s art improves with every issue reaching towards the pinnacle of his artistic achievement. It’s one of the best books of its era and a masterclass in the form that today’s creators can still draw upon for inspiration. Of particular note is issue #8 (“A Day in the Life”) a nice character piece that fleshes out the series three original creations (Starfire, Cyborg and Raven) and brings them closer to the characters we’ve come to know and love.
Movies and TV
Last week I warned you away from Superman: Doomsday and now I am happy to report that this year’s The Death of Superman is a much more successful adaptation of the original source material (which is still available to read). I love how the creators tied the escalation of the Lois and Clark romance into the fight between Superman and Doomsday. When Lois tells Clark that she loves him for the first time right before he sacrifices himself to save her and Metropolis I was moved to tears. The buildup to the climactic battle is great and the fight itself is even more epic than the one captured in the comics due to better staging and the fact that they used a much more iconic Justice League to really drive home how much of a threat Doomsday really was. The funeral sequence feels a little protracted but it is a nice coda and serves to really whet the appetite for Reign of the Supermen set to be released next year.
I know I’m a bit late to the party here but with the long awaited third season promised to drop soon I decided that it was past time to catch up on Young Justice. I really enjoy how they handle the broader DC Universe, pulling in odd little deep cuts here and there. They are fun easter eggs if you’re familiar with what’s being referenced but not completely confusing if you don’t. If I have one criticism it’s that in the early episodes they tend to focus on obscure D-list villains in favor of more potent antagonists but this problem seems to be resolving about half way through the series with appearances by Lex Luthor, Ras Al Ghul and the Joker.
Green Arrow is a really difficult character to get right. Thus far the best presentation I’ve seen is The CW’s Arrow but Kevin Smith’s 2000 comic book run is a close second. In Quiver, Oliver Queen returns from the dead with amnesia. He believes that he’s just back from some hard travel with his friend Green Lantern Hal Jordan but years have passed and the world has changed. Regardless of what you may think of his movies Smith knows how to write comics well: his sense of action is flawless and his dialog pithy and on point. Phil Hester’s art is hit or miss for me but his simple sense of style works well here and is a nice complement to Smith’s wordplay. I can’t unequivocally recommend this book since there is some non-explicit sexual situations involving a young girl that some might find triggering (especially given recent events) and a supporting character who is pretending to be a fairly cringeworthy trope but if these are not deal breakers for you the storytelling is of a quality that it is worth reading. Available on DC Universe in Green Arrow (2000-) #1-10.
If you are looking for something a bit more modern there are several arcs available from Geoff Johns’ 2007 Action Comics run with Superman director Richard Donner. In Escape From Bizarro World (with artist Eric Powell) Superman must save Pa Kent from his imperfect clone and a planet full of his offspring (including a Bizarro Justice League). Braniac (with artist Gary Frank) tells the story of the first true confrontation between Superman and one of his arch foes, the evil alien mastermind from the planet Colu. While Johns’ brand of decompressed storytelling isn’t for everyone, this is a case where it works fairly well. It’s an interesting run as the writers seem to be intent on adding elements of both the pre-Crisis comics continuity and the Christopher Reeve Superman films into the stripped-down framework previously established by John Byrne in his 1987 reboot. These stories actually read better taken outside the context of the character’s broader continuity adrift as they are adrift between major periods of the Superman canon. The tone of Braniac may also feel familiar to those who are following Mark Andreyko and Kevin Maguire’s current run on Supergirl making for interesting comparisons between the two. Available on DC Universe in Action Comics (1938-) #855-857 and #866-870.