• DC Sneak Peek Action Comics Supes Columns 

    The DC3 Presents: Divergence 8 Page Previews, Week 2!

    By , and | May 18th, 2015
    Posted in Columns | % 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!

    Action Comics Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder
    Illustrated by Aaron Kuder
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr.’s upcoming “Superman” run may be the book that people are most anticipating, but “Action Comics” continues to be the horse to bet on. With Kuder taking on co-writing duties along with his (per usual) spectacular penciling, this striking 8-pager sets up a bleak and hopeless future for Clark and hints that there may be more to “Truth” than a case of leaked identity.

    Kuder never ceases to amaze artistically. This rising star of an artist seems to have no limits regarding just how high he can soar. The preview is told mostly in gray scale, with the only color being Clark’s red and yellow “S” shield and his red cape and later, his blood. The blue caption boxes round out the iconic primary colors. The result is haunting in its beauty, something that is not often said of Superman comics.

    While I don’t know how I feel about Superman saying “damn” 3 times in 8-pages (I imagine Captain America somewhere off-panel saying “language!”), I can’t help but acknowledge that his team gets Superman. It’s not about the powers or the clothes. It’s about the ideal, the hope, and the fierce willpower that drives the Man of Steel. Pak and Kuder seem set to test this, with Clark entering yet another in a line gauntlet of attacks on his character. Throughout their run on “Action Comics,” this team has found inventive and compelling trials for Superman, and I expect them to continue to do so.

    Final Verdict: 8.7 – Pak and Kuder can apparently do no wrong when it comes to Man of Steel.

    Aquaman Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by Trevor McCarthy
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Aquaman is a tricky character to get right, and most people think the way to fix him is to make him darker and more brooding than before. Since the 90s, this is more or less the only way people attempt to write the character, and Cullen Bunn, a writer I thoroughly enjoy, falls into that same trap here.

    Aquaman is given the full shift here: he has new costume, new powers, and a new enemy. I’ll take these one at a time: the new costume has a weirdly half-dressed look to it, like someone forgot to give him his new shirt, so he’s wearing an undershirt with his new pants. The pants, mind you, take the New 52’s high collars and drops it down a few feet to create the most high-waisted superhero costume ever created; the thing looks like a girdle. The new powers appear to be lightning based (?), but aren’t given too much explanation. And the new enemy is his (not quite) wife, Mera.

    All of this is bizarre to me: Aquaman’s costume is iconic, and at a time when DC is attempting to embrace their past, changing out his look just seems silly to me – especially with the changes going on elsewhere, costume wise (Hal and Clark losing their iconic looks in the same month, plus Bat-bunny), you’d think they would want a few old standards.

    The powers, too, are silly – Aquaman already has an incredible skillset that is woefully underused at best, and flat out ignored at best. Giving him the power to harness lightning is ridiculous, especially as he has control over electric eels, a very similar power.

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    And, finally, making Mera his enemy is just furthering DC’s commitment to annulling all happy marriages in the DCU. I know they weren’t “married” in the New 52, but there are plenty of ways to make their relationship interesting without destroying it.

    Adding insult to injury is that Trevor McCarthy is one of the best illustrators in the business, and his work here is spectacular. From a visual standpoint, aside from just how dark it is (which, frankly, fits the tone), the book is stunning. McCarthy manages to pack a lot of emoting into a pretty straight up action piece, and makes everything – from a dead fish to a pissed off Atlantean king – look gorgeous.

    With the expanded rogues gallery on the final page (is that Aqualad? King Shark?), the book could still go very interesting places, but this preview seems to double down on all the misconceptions about what make Aquaman interesting – aka, everything that isn’t really related to Aquaman – and tosses out all that makes him a rightful member of the iconic 7 Justice League members.

    Final Verdict: 4.7 – This reader is pissed

    Bat-Mite Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Dan Jurgens
    Illustrated by Corin Howell
    Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski

    The prevailing worry about “Bat-Mite”, for me, is that most of Dan Jurgens’ humor writing in recent years has been overly corny and more often inspires eye rolls than chuckles. So while the premise of “Bat-Mite” is as winning as you could imagine (“Bat-Mite” flies around “helping” or fixing DC superheroes), it doesn’t matter how promising it is if it’s not funny. That said, the sneak peek preview outperformed my expectations for it, and actually inspired me to put it on my pull list for the time being, though this isn’t an unconditional endorsement. Jurgens’ “Bat-Mite” is still a little “much”, firing off quip after quip with maybe half of them landing. He comes off as an irritating wasp in the ear of Batman, in this particular issue, which works for an 8-page preview. Will we be able to stand him for more than that? That remains to be seen. Corin Howell’s artistic turn certainly helps. Howell leans toward the cartoony side, actually invoking Bruce Timm’s Animated “Batman” on a number of occasions. It’s so refreshing to see a book with Batman as a guest star that is fully willing to be goofy and look ebullient to match. For once in the post-Flashpoint DCU, Batman beating up a bunch of crooks looks like Looney Tunes instead of grim and realistic. “Bat-Mite” may or may not irritate with his strong personality, but there’s no arguing that the book strikes the right tone.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – The “Bat-Mite” we need, but for better or worse, probably also the one we deserve.

    Bizarro Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Heath Corson
    Illustrated by Gustavo Duarte
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Collectively, I think the DC3 was most excited about this book, and the preview doesn’t disappoint: this is an absolutely inspired way to bring two beloved Super-family characters together in an organic and fun way, and in a way that is accessible and understandable to all ages. Duarte’s pages can’t help but bring a smile to your face, and Corson has Bizarro-speak down to a science.

    That Bizarro-speak means that the book has to be read a little more carefully than you’d normally read an all ages comic, because your mind takes time to adjust to the opposite speak than you realize. For instance, I’ve been familiar with Bizarro for nearly 30 years now, but I still had to re-read certain sections to make sure that I was understanding it properly, especially the sequence where he is talking to Jimmy Olsen, as he is answering his questions in his language, and it appears, on the surface to be contradicting Olsen, but he’s not – he’s agreeing, in his, ahem, bizarre way.

    One could argue that for that reason, this maybe isn’t the best character to focus an all ages miniseries on, but I think it also shows kids the importance of reading comprehension and making sure to take in every word and panel. I have expressed the opinion elsewhere that this and “Bat-Mite” represent a confusing strategy for DC to give its readers all ages books that look an awful lot like characters little kids know, without giving them the characters that they actually know.

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    Final Verdict: 8.0 -While still an unusual choice for an all-ages title, the results are incredibly fun and interesting.

    Deathstroke Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Tony S. Daniel and James Bonny
    Illustrated by Peter Nguyen
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Deathstroke is a character that is both inherently cool, explaining his continued prevalence, but eternally mishandled. This latest take on Slade Wilson strips away most of what defines the character in favor a generically good-looking merc. Overuse of caption boxes aside, this preview does little wrong, but it gets equally little right. Weaving in the recent Wonder Woman mythos is a compelling draw, but the journey to the last page is so uninspiringly bland as to dissuade the reader from even reaching it. Still, Tomeu Morey can make anything beautiful, and I have more than a passing interest to see what Deathstroke will do now that he has what appears to be the Soul Edge of “Soul Calibur” fame.

    Final Verdict: 5.0 – As a preview, “Deathstoke” does little to compel readers to follow this story come June.

    Doctor Fate Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Paul Levitz
    Illustrated by Sonny Liew
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    With this surprising melding of DC’s old guard and fresh new talent, DC has perhaps captured lightning in a bottle; a book that matches the freshness of “Marvel NOW” while still maintaining a distinctly “DC” tone.

    I don’t want to fall into a trap of over extrapolating from an 8-page preview, but this looks to be Paul Levitz’s finest work in years. DC’s recent reliance on talent from the 80’s and 90’s has often left their line feeling stale and dated compared to their more progressive competitors. While Levitz has fallen into this camp before, you would never guess it from reading “Doctor Fate.” Levitz’s script feels both current and relevant. His characters, the young Khalid and his family, feel, talk, and live like normal people. Up until the preview’s supernatural final page, Levitz crafts a charming slice of life comic that would feel right at home next to any darling indie book.

    Of course, so much of that charm stems from Sonny Liew’s fantastic artwork. I feel like I find myself saying this more and more regarding DC’s artists, but Liew’s work feels wholly different from anything else the publisher is doing. His endearingly cartoony characters are vibrant and expressive. His world is simple, yet full of life.

    With nary a caption box in sight, “Doctor Fate,” goes against the grain of all of this week’s previews. The book is truly something special, a spellbinding teenage drama with a spooky supernatural flavor. DC has, thus far, failed to capture the vibrant youth present in many of Marvel’s most beloved titles, but “Doctor Fate” looks to remedy that. Now if only we can get “Wonder Woman” back on track…

    Final Verdict 9.3 – DC may finally have found its “Ms. Marvel.”

    Gotham by Midnight Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Ray Fawkes
    Illustrated by Juan Ferreyra
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Let’s get this out of the way: Batwing didn’t join the team, so I’m a little butthurt at this issue. The Corrigan/Batwing team up in “Batman Eternal” was one of the highlights for me, and I really thought that, post-”Convergence,” we would see the young Mr. Fox join the Midnight Shift. Ah, well.

    Outside of that, this is more of what we’ve come to expect from this book: eerie, brilliant art – now from the talented Juan Ferreyra – coupled with the supernatural stories that have always existed somewhere in Gotham, but never got more than the occasional Bat-story. This is the city that housed “The Cult,” remember – there is weirdness everywhere. Fawkes does a really nice job getting a new reader caught up with the idea of the book, as it isn’t exactly as easy to pick up, conceptually, as, say, “Superman” or “Aquaman.”

    Ferreyra’s art also fits the book quite well. He isn’t aping Ben Templesmith, who launched the book, but he is working in a similar milieu, and that is just fine. Ferreyra cut his teeth on Dark Horse horror comics (and, you know, Abe Sapien), so the tone is not too much of a stretch.

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    Final Verdict: 7.5 – A nice reintroduction to the team, and an idea of how the new Batman and Corrigan will work together. But no Batwing.

    Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
    Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski

    The DCU doesn’t feel right without a John Stewart-led “Green Lantern” title. The “Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army” sneak peek is basically about just that – Stewart’s ability and status as a leader of men. John Stewart has harbored a lot of guilt over the years, as writers often chose to heap the major trials and tribulations of being a space cop onto him, while the other Green Lanterns more or less got off pretty lightly and got to be the heroes. Hopefully this new title can reclaim him and make him into a hero that doesn’t have to carry the burden of his prior actions with him, or at least dwell on them all the time. Bunn writes a captivating and introspective Stewart, and introduces a twist on page 8 that fans of the Lanterns titles in the last 5 years will appreciate, but he’s not reinventing the wheel here. If you’ve liked the “Green Lantern Corps” title since Peter Tomasi was writing it, this feels like a worthy, ultimately similar extension. Jesus Saiz (one of my favorite artists in DC’s stable) brings his superlative style to the title and his colors add a remarkable depth to the art that I’m not sure we’ve seen before. His colors swirl on the page and add shading to the environments and figures, popping the characters off of the page. “Green Lantern Corps” is perhaps more fun to look at than it is to read at this point, but Lantern fans won’t be disappointed with either aspect of the creative effort.

    Final Verdict: 7.5 – “Green Lantern Corps” isn’t looking to change or innovate anything, but it’s continuing the solid storytelling that we’ve come to expect from the title.

    Justice League 3001 Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
    Illustrated by Howard Portor
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Jumping one year further into the future, “Justice League 3001” struggles to find both its tone and its audience in this preview. Having only read the first few issues of the previous volume, reading this preview was a frustrating and confusing exercise. Not even the briefest indication of who these characters are, why they look like but don’t sound like heroes we know, or why Guy Gardener exists as a female 1000 years in the future is never even hinted at. Instead, Giffen and DeMatteis throw new readers off the deep-end, expecting them to piece together meaning from this awkward dinner date. Readers of “Justice League 3000” may find enjoyment in the preview and excitement for what may come in “3001.” However, if the intent was to snare new readers, as I expect it is, this preview goes squarely against its directive. Howard Porter continues to do some of the finest work of his career, so the book at least has that going for it.

    Final Verdict 3.0 – Straddling the line between “Justice League International” and something decidedly more “New 52,” “3001” fails to find footing with either camp.

    Lobo Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by Cliff Richards
    Reviewed by Vince Ostrowski

    I didn’t hate the new “Lobo” title when Cullen Bunn launched it last year, though I didn’t enjoy it enough to stick with it. I appreciated the sneak peek we got here as a way of checking back in with the character. What I found is a title that hasn’t really changed at all, so if you weren’t interested in “Lobo” #1 then, you won’t be interested in “Lobo” now. He’s still waifish, handsome rogue with a mean streak and a penchant for violence. The new Lobo’s character is, for better or worse, entirely encapsulated by the 8-page preview: he sleeps with another man’s wife shortly before murdering him and rushing off to chase his next bounty. That’s “Lobo” – take him or leave him. I’m probably going to leave him, because Mad Men just ended and I definitely need a break from womanizing drifters for a while, plus the violence has worn on me. But while “Lobo” isn’t a great comic, it’s not a travesty of a comic book, and might be worth a look for someone looking for a nihilistic rogue to follow. Cliff Richards’ is the star of the show here, using surprising perspective and strong linework to depict Lobo with flair and confidence. “Lobo” travels in sci-fi cityscapes, and Richards depicts them as detailed and sprawling – evoking the sort of pop science fiction cities seen in things like Blade Runner or Star Wars. Perhaps that’s the most apt comparison for “Lobo” – he’s played off as a sci-fi Harrison Ford character (take your pick), with a meaner edge to him.

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    Final Verdict: 6.0 – “Lobo” is not for me, but it’s not terrible either.


    Zach’s Picks

    Best New Book: Doctor Fate (but Bizarro is a close second!)

    Best Returning Book: Action Comics

    Biggest Surprise: Green Lantern: Lost Army

    Biggest Disappointment: Aquaman

    Brian’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Dr. Fate

    Best Returning Book: Action Comics

    Biggest Surprise: Bat-Mite

    Biggest Disappointment: Aquaman

    Vince’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Doctor Fate

    Best Returning Book: Action Comics

    Biggest Surprise: Doctor Fate

    Biggest Disappointment: Deathstroke, always

    //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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