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    The DC3 Presents: Divergence 8 Page Previews, Week 1

    By , and | May 11th, 2015
    Posted in Columns | 3 Comments

    While all of us at Multiversity are fans of a wide spectrum of comics, there are a few of us that tend to self-identify as “DC guys.” We’ve cried for justice; we’ve been through the blackest nights and the brightest days. And now, we’ve been culled together for a new column to focus on some of the bigger goings on in the world of Detective Comics Comics. If you’re wondering who is going to stand up and discuss what is happening at DC – don’t worry:

    For the next few weeks, we will be doing recaps of the previews found at the end of the “Convergence” tie-ins for DC’s June relaunch books. Let us know which books look the best/are most headed for a landfill in the comments!

    Detective Comics Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
    Illustrated by Francis Manapul
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    The post-“Convergence” Bat-books have an uphill battle ahead of them – the gimmicky nature of a “new” Batman has to be twice as good as it should be, just to silence the critics that will just be shouting “He’s not Bruce” over and over again. DC is being smart about the multiple Bat-books, setting each book up as a different perspective on Batcop, and “Detective Comics” looks at the way that the GCPD will be interacting with him.

    This preview focuses on Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya, along with Batcop, conspiring to kill Bullock’s partner, Nancy Yip, a woman who could “take down the entire department.” Everything about this story feels different; almost antithetical to what a Batman story should be – and that is why it works so well. Manapul and Buccellato are not the creative team that immediately jumps to mind when talking about a gritty, street level cop book, but the tone they strike in these 8 pages feels like something new, not just for Gotham, but for the creators, too.

    It doesn’t hurt that Bullock and Montoya are classic members of the Bat-verse that are not simply “good guys” – they are nuanced, complicated characters that have rough edges and pronounced dark sides. Gordon, long an avatar of what an honest cop should be, is seen here conspiring to kill a cop – it seems that, unlike Bruce Wayne, Gordon doesn’t have a “no kill” rule. This Gordon seems entirely new, and is placed in the middle of a story that is unlike any Bat story I’ve ever read. And that has me excited.

    Final Verdict: 9.0 – A truly fascinating tease of the new Gotham status quo

    Doomed Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Scott Lobdell
    Illustrated by Javier Fernandez
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Look, we’re all thinking it; A new book, spinning out of the nearly one year old “Doomed” crossover, penned by Scott Lobdell? Pass, without a second thought. But wait, not so fast! While far from a breakout success, this preview for “Doomed” manages to pique some interest.

    “Doomed” stars Reiser, a Peter Parker-esque university student complete with loving aunt and unrequited girl-next-door. However, rather than being infected by the bite of radioactive spider, Reiser has a Doomsday spore, which turns him into a rampaging monster. Lobdell sets up Reiser as the unwitting villain. Unable to control his powers, such that a simple plea turns into the brutal “Doomed Breath,” setting him at odds with would be heroes. Javier Fernandez’s art-style is clean and dynamic, though at times lacking in detail. Still, the look is far less “Doomsday,” and more in line with the “Batgirl of Burnside” aesthetic that predominates much of DC’s new line.

    With a compelling cast and a twisted premise that’s equal parts Spider-Man and Teen Wolf, Lobdell and Fernandez may have just introduced an interesting and worthwhile addition to the DCU.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – Though fairly derivative of other properties, “Doomed” has has an endearing humor and fun art style that betrays it’s 90’s roots.

    Green Arrow Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Benjamin Percy
    Continued below

    Illustrated by Patrick Zircher
    Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski

    It seems that little but misfires and false starts have plagued “Green Arrow” since the New 52 began. With the exception of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s superlative run with the character, Oliver Queen’s ongoing has ranged from woefully bad (the beginning of the New 52) to merely an uninspired also-ran (the most recent run after Lemire/Sorrentino). With the success of The CW’s Arrow, one would expect the comic to veer that way, but the preview avoids doing that. Instead, for now, Benjamin Percy has Oliver Queen on a soul searching mission of self-exploration. He’s the Don Draper of DC Comics, you might say. While this is an admittedly interesting turn of events for an Oliver Queen character DC itself has struggled with finding the right identity for in recent years, Percy saddles him with entirely too much heavy-handedness. The narration labors to tell you how much Oliver needs to escape and figure out what road to take. It also overtly aims to walk the character back into being a young, brash “magnificent bastard” type that borders on unlikeable, all because, what, he’s having a mid-20’s crisis? I’ll give Percy points for taking Oliver to Alaska to drink hard liquor in which the body of a drowned man has been marinating, but beyond that, this “Green Arrow” preview was too acrid by half.

    Patrick Zircher’s cinematic style is entirely apt for the character. If nothing else, he’s going to be the primary reason to keep tabs on “Green Arrow”, if the preview is any indication. Gabe Eltaeb provides a dark color palette to the dark search of the soul that Ollie is on right now. Even if the status quo isn’t trying to match up with Arrow, the mood and feel is definitely right in line. Zircher’s strong line art and ability to depict street-level action well makes “Green Arrow” feel like an alternative option to the Batman titles. If you want to read books with the same look and feel, but are tired of the caped crusader, “Green Arrow” might be worth a look.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – I feel like I’ll be in the minority on this one, but Oliver Queen feels like he’s regressing here.

    Green Lantern Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Robert Venditti
    Illustrated by Billy Tan
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Say what you want about Robert Venditti’s tenure on “Green Lantern,” the guy isn’t afraid to shake things up. The writer, almost from the word go, set out to differentiate his run from the monumental one that preceded it. So, it’s somewhat surprising that this new story doesn’t veer too far from the norm. Hal Jordan’s status as public enemy #1 isn’t a huge leap based on the character’s checkered past, but what makes this new status quo interesting is the fact that it’s self imposed. Venditti’s tale echos events from “Justice League,” establishing a Hal Jordan with a serious messiah complex, dead set on taking on the sins of many. In this short story, Hal’s selflessness comes off as bold and inspiring, but it could just as easily devolve into a self-destructive spiral. I for one am super excited to see which road Hal travels down.

    Venditti is joined by frequent ring-slinging compatriot, Billy Tan. Tan’s work on “Green Lantern” has ranged wildly in quality, epic scenes of sci-fi/fantasy madness only to be undone by a dopey Hal Jordan face. Tan never quite nailed Hal’s look as a Green Lantern, but he seems more comfortable with the newly redesigned look. Although colored by series regular Alex Sinclair, the story has a noticeably darker, grungier palette, accurately reflecting the change in tone.

    Taken as a whole, this preview for the upcoming era of “Green Lantern” could be taken as two steps forward, one step back. On one hand, it marks the beginning of a compelling new era for Hal Jordan, one that feels quite different from the humongous multi-title space operas we’ve been treated to over the last decade. However, in making the shift, Venditti returns to a well worn path. Only time will tell if there’s any water left in this well, but this preview makes a compelling case for readers to stick around.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 7.8 – The next leg of Venditti and Tan’s “Green Lantern” saga takes a strong step forward.

    Midnighter Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Steve Orlando
    Illustrated by Aco
    Review by Vince Ostrowski

    “Midnighter” opens on close-up glimpses of a spacious apartment with undergarments and condoms scattered on the floor. No sneak preview this month begins with a better indicator for the type of book it wants to be than Steve Orlando and Aco’s fearless “Midnighter.” Through a variety of interesting angles and visual perspectives, Aco contributes to the “in-your-face” attitude of the comic as well. But being that “in-your-face” can be a buzz phrase with a negative connotation, I want to make it clear that “Midnighter” is not only the perfect fit for this kind of tone, but that Orlando also cuts that attitude with plenty of humor along the way. “Midnighter” is gloriously unapologetic about what it is (a book about a gay anti-hero with a thirst for blood – facts the preview doesn’t try to hide), but not in any way off-putting by being too dark or gritty. The only thing dark is the humor, and a book like this needs to be gritty. Orlando and Aco “get” it, which is why this was the most successful sneak preview of the month.

    Final Verdict: 9.0 – As fresh as it gets, when you’re talking about DC Comics. “Midnighter” presents a bold character on a bold new direction, with a progressive mindset and a sense of humor to boot.

    The Omega Man Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Tom King
    Illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Anyone who knows me will tell you that Kyle Rayner is my favorite comics character of all time. So, to start off a book by killing him (more on whether that is true or not later), will get my attention. Add to that Tom King, the co-writer of the best book DC is putting out (“Grayson”), and now I’m sitting upright. Make the opening salvo of the book a terrorist-style execution video that is genuinely moving? Well, now I’m on the edge of my seat.

    King and artist Barnaby Bagenda (someone who I am, sadly, not familiar with) create a classic 9 grid structure for each of the 8 pages, all told from a stationary angle, meant to represent a camera on a tripod. This could have been supremely boring, visually, but Bagenda does a nice job with the placement of characters within the frame, suggesting movement and, most impressively, conveying so much about each character through minor adjustments in their facial expressions and body language. King writes some impressively persuasive dialogue that helps define the tone of the book, the mindset of its characters, and sets the book apart as something really unique and special.

    Now, onto the big question: are they really going to kill Kyle Rayner? My vote goes for no – this is a propaganda video, meant to rile people up. Whether or not he actually dies is almost immaterial – if he appears dead, that furthers their cause. While I am still not a huge fan of the Rayner/Ferris romance, Kyle’s “leave the light on for me” line was heartbreaking, and did a lot to make their love seem genuine. I am really excited to see what this book has in store, and trust King to shepherd it into some interesting directions.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – This checks off so many things that I want in my comics that it is hard to not be genuinely excited about it

    Prez Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Mark Russell
    Illustrated by Ben Caldwell
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    So “Prez,” at least based on this preview, is nothing at all like I expected. Belying the quirky pitch and Caldwell’s whimsical cartooning, “Prez” is less about laughs and more about subtle (or in some cases, not so subtle) satire on the state of the world. The premise centers on a marooned Twitter-elected teenage president, mistakenly under attack by gamer controlled attack drones, on Thanksgiving no less. Even with such an outlandish set-up, Mark Russell plays it mostly straight, dealing with life and death stakes. Protagonist Beth Ross shows bears all the traits of typical teenage girl, but one with an admirable inner strength, making for a character that fans can potentially rally behind. Through the book is surprisingly serious, it does have a streak of humor. The aforementioned gamer drones and a running gag involving the newly recognized yet completely anonymous nation state of, well, Anonymous, keeps the whole affair somewhere in the umbrella of “dark comedy.”

    Continued below

    It’s books like “Prez” that are most in need of this sort of preview, and Russell and Caldwell make great use of their 8 pages, telling a short one and done that gives fans an idea of what to expect. After seeing the world of 2036, it’s obvious there’s more than enough plot fodder to tell a compelling 12-issue mini-series, one that will be quite different from most anything DC has published in recent years. After failing with odd-duck books like “Green Team” and “The Movement,” “Prez” gives hope that DC may have finally latched onto a non-superhero that can find footing with fans.

    Final Verdict: 8.2 – Subverting expectation, Prez’s mix of political satire/coming of age story makes for a very unique comic among DC’s new line-up.

    Red Hood/Arsenal Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Scott Lobdell
    Illustrated by Denis Medri
    Review by Vince Ostrowski

    After a brief stint with the bat family over in “Batman: Eternal”, Jason Todd and Roy Harper are together again, sans Starfire, in “Red Hood/Arsenal.” Scott Lobdell gets a lot of junk talked about him for his work at DC Comics – don’t get me wrong, plenty of it is earned for his wonky attempts at wiping character’s long-standing personas for more generic (or in Starfire’s case, incredibly misguided) takes on those same characters – but nothing here in this 8-page preview harbors such offenses. Instead, what it is is a fairly rote offering about Jason and Roy infiltrating Kobra forces to stave off the enemy from the inside. The pair of pseudo-witty outlaws are only mildly entertaining, and both of them feel as though they have no place in the DCU beyond themselves (Jason might as well have been a different character in “Batman: Eternal”). But while the characters themselves still feel overly generic, I did appreciate the lighter tone that this preview took. Kobra, and the over-the-top, G.I. Joe-esque villainy therein, was the best thing about the preview.

    Denis Medri’s cartooning (think a very “reigned-in” version of Humberto Ramos) added to my appreciation for the tone of the book, as the design work was unafraid to veer away from realism. Kobra, in particular, was so gloriously over-the-top in design that it’s clear that the idea is to embrace the ridiculous. Medri applies a slight re-design to Jason’s civilian look, as well, that sets him apart from the other former Robins. If this is Jason’s new uncostumed status quo, it’s a welcome change for the character.

    Final Verdict: 6.5 – An average re-introduction of a couple of characters that feel the same as they have since the New 52 began. If you liked/hated them then, you’ll like them/hate them now. Not sure where the “Divergence” is with this one.

    Section Eight Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Garth Ennis
    Illustrated by John McCrea
    Review by Vince Ostrowski

    If you know who Dogwelder and Bueno Excellente are in the first place, then you’re probably buying this book already. For everyone else, “Section Eight” is the highly unlikely return of some of Garth Ennis’ most bizarre characters from “Hitman” – a popular DC Comics series from the ’90s. The hallmark of “Section Eight” is that this ragtag team is made up of characters that really have no business existing, nor seemingly no practical use. After all, what does anyone gain by welding a dog to someone’s back? Aside from the entertainment of the reader, I’m not sure, but maybe that’s enough? Ennis and McCrea play it as an absurd comedy, with McCrea’s art (looking as polished and funny as it has in years) sometimes reaching Sergio Aragones “Mad Magazine” levels of comic absurdity. The preview feels a little thin, acting solely as an introduction to the characters that make up the Section Eight team – without even really introducing them all. But it also feels like the least necessary preview, as anyone who’s going to buy “Section Eight” probably knows what it is already. That aside, it’s just as irreverent and funny as it was in the ’90s. In fact, it’s surprising how close the creative team came to replicating the feel of the era that “Hitman” came from. It’s hard to recommend this to readers that are coming in cold, but it’s the easiest book in the world to recommend to fans of “Bueno Excellente.”

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A worthy return to the “Hitman” cavalcade of characters. Ennis and McCrea slip right back into it like it’s a warm bath.

    Starfire Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
    Illustrated by Emanuela Lupacchino
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    These sneak peaks are interesting in how they approach the introduction of the new series. “Starfire” does that by not just focusing on the titular character, but by showing her role in the DCU as relating to other, perhaps better known, characters. Palmiotti and Conner do a great job capturing the voices of the other characters in the story, which is important, as Starfire can be a bit of a blank slate. She is so earnest that she can appear one dimensional in the wrong hands. Lupacchino’s focus on her eyes is something that helps negate that blank slate appearance a little bit too – gone are the Lil’ Orphan Annie eyes, and in place are eyes that are still full of wonder and innocence, but also show thought and depth – two qualities that the New 52 Starfire has lacked.

    I don’t know what this really says about the book, but the most affecting part was how strongly the team got Superman right. This is obviously pre-“Truth” Superman, in the old costume, but he talks about his life in ways that scream compassion and understanding – how said is it that we have to marvel at Superman being written like…Superman? His advice to Kori was interesting, and served as a nice nudge to her status quo.

    Lupacchino’s art is clean and playful, and allows Kori’s innocence to be at the forefront, which is an interesting direction to take the character – especially as Connor and Palmioitti’s other writing gig is on “Harley Quinn,” a character utterly devoid of innocence or nuance. This preview gives me hope that the book will be more than just Harley Part Deux, and that, perhaps, a little bit of the old “Power Girl” magic might seep into the action.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A strong start to the title

    TL; DR

    Zach’s Picks

    Best New Book: Midnighter

    Best Returning Book: Detective Comics

    Biggest Surprise: Doomed

    Biggest Disappointment: Green Arrow

    Brian’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Midnighter

    Best Returning Book: Detective Comics

    Biggest Surprise: The Omega Men

    Biggest Disappointment: Doomed

    Vince’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Midnighter

    Best Returning Book: Green Lantern

    Biggest Surprise: The Omega Men

    Biggest Disappointment: Detective Comics, yes, you read that right.

    //TAGS | The DC3

    Brian Salvatore

    Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


    Vince Ostrowski

    Dr. Steve Brule once called him "A typical hunk who thinks he knows everything about comics." Twitter: @VJ_Ostrowski


    Zach Wilkerson

    Zach "The Mercenary" Wilkerson may sometimes act like he hates comics, but he generally enjoys them, mostly. Ask him about his encyclopedic knowledge of the Kingdom Hearts series and follow him on twitter @wilkerfox.


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