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    The DC3 Presents: Divergence 8 Page Previews, Week 3!

    By , and | May 25th, 2015
    Posted in Columns | 6 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!

    Batman Beyond Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Dan Jurgens
    Illustrated by Bernard Chang
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    This latest incarnation of “Batman Beyond” is a big departure from the traditional animated series. Set 35 years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world controlled by Brother Eye, Tim Drake dons the Beyond suit in Terry’s place. Readers of “Futures End” should be familiar with the premise, as this preview picks up where the lackluster finale leaves off.

    “Futures End” writer Dan Jurgens carries the torch onward, though not as gracefully as one would hope. While the plot and premise are sound, some wonky scripting hurts the overall product. Truly cringe-worthy dialogue, such as “hold tight, it’s about to get freaky,” demonstrates a disconnect between Jurgens and the voice of Tim Drake, as well with his audience. However, there are some strong character beats, particularly involving Terry’s younger brother.

    Chang, on the other hand, turns in nothing but solid, enjoyable work. Joined by “Green Lantern Corps” partner Macelo Maiolo on colors, this creative team delivers the same dynamic, stylized action that made that series such a joy to read.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – A stunningly gorgeous book with a promising premise, held back only by awkward scripting.

    Batman/Superman Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Greg Pak
    Illustrated by Adrian Syaf
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    The next in the long line of previews detailing the upcoming “Truth” storyline, this preview quite obviously explores the relationship between Superman and new Batman, Jim Gordon. As “Action Comics” scribe Greg Pak also writes this series, there’s a fluid progression from last week’s preview. Stripped of his iconic suit, Clark now wears the remaining scraps of his indestructible cape/security blanket as a sort of alien brass knuckles set. It’s quite fitting of his new biker look, which is arguably the oddest redesign since electric blue Superman.

    Unsurprisingly, things don’t go over so well between the depowered Clark and the newly mechanized Dark Knight, leading to an action packed super hero brawl. Pak plays the new status quo in interesting ways, pushing Clark to his limits, forcing him to be Super in new ways. The preview isn’t just about redefining Superman’s relationship with Batman, but the relationship with his oldest of foes as well. It’s a strange new world for the Man of Steel.

    Artistically, “Batman/Superman” is the least impressive of the Superman and Batman books we’ve seen thus far. Lacking the distinct visual flair of Capullo and Romita Jr., or the artistic innovation of Kuder and Manapul, Syaf’s pencils are serviceable to the story, though not particularly impressive.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – The weakest preview to feature one of DC’s Finest, but with a promising hook to draw readers back.

    Catwoman Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Genevieve Valentine
    Illustrated by David Messina
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    When Genevieve Valentine was announced as the new writer for “Catwoman,” I had no idea what to expect. As we begin her second arc on the title, I am ready to call this one of the better Catwoman runs I’ve ever read. Making Selina queen of the underworld is an inspired choice, and sets this arc aside from every other Catwoman story we’ve read. She is still ruthless in her desire for power and money, but she is humane enough to be able to root for – the mix is perfect. The fact that the cops are getting to (seemingly) have a bigger role in the book adds a lot to the book, too – I’m not going to call it “Gotham Central”-esque, because it isn’t, but is a book that really gives you an idea of what Gotham is like outside of the direct influence of Batman.

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    David Messina does a really nice job here as well, balancing the high end setting with a deceptively simple style; it would be very, very easy for an artist to go crazy on the opulence, but he instead dials it back and focuses on the characters we meet. He also folds in characters like Black Mask without too much fanfare – of course the dude in the skull mask is going to look out of place, so there’s no real reason to draw attention to it.

    But it is his eyes that are the real stars here – every character is working on a few different levels of motivation, and their eyes tell the story perfectly. Penguin is toasting Selina, but his non-monocled eye is practically sweating greed; Eiko’s sideways glance tells you everything you need to know about her feelings towards Selina at the moment. Messina takes what could be a visually uninteresting premise (Selina hosts a party), and makes it a feast for your eyes.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – A strong continuation of a strong run

    Gotham Academy Divergence Sneak Peak
    Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
    Illustrated by Mingjue Helen Chen
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    “Gotham Academy” is certainly a quirky book, and as such the team takes a rather unorthodox approach in their Divergence preview. Told almost exclusively in a series of rhyming couplets of Maps’ design, this sneak peak offers a look at what may be coming in the book’s future. While both wittily written and gorgeously illustrated, the preview’s strict adherence to its chosen style sometimes makes the preview more convoluted than necessary. It’s also extremely vague at times, giving only broad strokes regarding the book’s tone and setting. While it’s a delightful treat for existing fans of the book, I fear it may leave new readers scratching their heads.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – Though it has style charm in spades, this isn’t necessarily the best preview for “Gotham Academy.”

    Grayson Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Tom King and Tim Seeley
    Illustrated by Mikal Janin
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    “Grayson” continues to exceed expectations at every turn, offering a truly unique angle within DC’s publishing line. The super spy, light on the superpowers comic is consistently one of the most rewarding reads of the month, and this preview shows that, even though the power structure at the top of Spyral has changed, the tone of the book hasn’t. What makes this 8 page story work so well is that it perfectly encapsulates Dick Grayson, without really having anything to do with Batman (beyond the dialogue), Robin or even Nightwing. Dick is kind to the little boy, he uses his acrobatics and acting training, he is amazingly effective, and he does it all while looking good. That is what Dick Grayson – no matter the guise – does.

    Mikal Janin is one of the most underrated artists in all of comics, and this preview shows why – his attention to detail is masterful, but never labored. Look, I love Nick Pitarra and Frank Quitely, but you see all the energy put into each panel; Janin’s work is effortless, and lacks for nothing. His layouts all slightly reference Dick’s acrobatic past, with panels tumbling into each other, and laying atop, beneath, and across themselves. The book just flows forth with interesting approach.

    Final Verdict: 9.0 – I was already all-in on this book, and the preview just shows that my faith will be rewarded.

    Martian Manhunter Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Rob Williams
    Illustrated by Eddy Barrows
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    For some reason, Martian Manhunter isn’t revered the way that other ‘classic’ DC heroes are – and this preview sets out to fix that right away. Because of that mandate, the dialogue is a little ham-fisted and overwrought – there is practically exposition bleeding from the characters’ noses, but that is the place of a preview. Better to let that happen here than in the #1 issue come June.

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    The issue does just about everything you would want an introduction to the character to do – sure, he’s been in “Stormwatch” and “Justice League United” in the New 52, but many readers may not have ever read a Manhunter-centric story, so it makes sense to double down on the origin. It appears that his most notable foe, the White Martian, is back, and the character has kept some of the Dr. Manhattan-esque feel that many writers of the past half decade or so have tossed upon him.

    Williams does a nice job with the description of Manhunter’s mind – he truly makes J’onn’s existence feel terrifying, and it contextualizes the character quite nicely. This preview, if nothing else, gives readers a real strong sense of what the character is all about and, hopefully, can cut through some of the more robotic/impersonal baggage that the character can tend to be saddled with.

    Eddy Barrows, still saddled with that unfortunate New 52 costume, shows subtle hints of J’onn’s shapeshifting ability – or is just sloppy with his head shape – throughout the issue. The issue has action in it, but it is all filtered through the vacuum of space, and Barrows does a nice job to give everything a slo-mo feel, without it feeling laborious.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A great starting point for a new series.

    New Suicide Squad Sneak Peek
    Written by Sean Ryan
    Illustrated by Philippe Briones
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    This is a prime example of a good idea (the government growing wary of the Suicide Squad) hidden in a not very enjoyable comic. Harley Quinn is rarely written well, and when placed alongside what Palmiotti/Conner are doing in her solo book, this looks particularly bad. On top of that, Captain Boomerang is written in a tone that feel absolutely off from what we’ve grown accustomed to, and Black Manta does a whole lot of nothing.

    Add to all of that artwork that is serviceable but in no way special, and the preview does nothing to entice me to pick up the book come June. You would think, with the team being on Arrow and filming its own feature, that DC would throw some heavy hitters at this book but, instead, this is the definition of a middling comic.

    Final Verdict: 4.3 – Yaaaaawn

    Robin, Son of Batman Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written and illustrated by Patrick Gleason
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    The preview of the new “Robin” book isn’t a great indicator of what kind of writer Patrick Gleason is going to be, as the dialogue (in general, but especially in the characterization of Damian) is kept light and fairly generic. I guess that makes sense, as an art-heavy approach is preferred, from an artist of Gleason’s skill. The trademark of Tomasi & Gleason’s consistently underrated “Batman and Robin” title was the iconography that the two would highlight in each issue. Every issue seemed to have a panel or two that could stand on its own as a statement that tells us something about the characters, or celebrated their very essences. “Robin, Son of Batman” looks to continue to give the character of Damian some iconic moments, but it remains to be seen how compelling or essential the storytelling will be. If the preview is any indication, this all feels pretty inconsequential. On the other hand, a sequence where Damian whistles for a massive beast named Goliath to come help him do battle is as fun and irreverent as DC Comics is allowed to be right now.

    Final Verdict: 6.5 – The artistic tour de force we’ve come to expect from Gleason, but with a merely adequate story that feels inessential.

    Secret Six Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Gale Simone
    Illustrated by Dale Eaglesham
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    The recent relaunch of “Secret Six” may have been long-awaited, but it ultimately felt like a failure, and an instance where DC should have left well enough alone. This week’s sneak preview is proof enough, however, that the ship can be more or less righted in short order. “Secret Six” #1, to me, felt so wrongheaded with its completely nihilistic feel and kowtowing to the grim landscape of modern comics. This preview, on the other hand, feels a lot more comparable to the pre-Flashpoint “Secret Six” with its varied team of anti-heroes that are given the opportunity to prove their worth. If you can stomach a book with Ventriloquist in such a prominent role (I’m not sure I can), then “Secret Six” might be worth revisiting. After all, if you enjoyed the book all those years ago, this preview reveals a book that’s a lot closer to that comic than you might think. Dale Eaglesham is also one of the most underrated artists in superhero comics. His art contributes to the dark feel of the title, but the characters themselves are colorful and lovingly rendered.

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    Final Verdict: 6.0 – “Secret Six” isn’t back to being the book you loved in 2008, but it’s inching its way ever closer.

    Teen Titans Divergence Sneak Peek
    Written by Will Pfeiffer
    Illustrated by Kenneth Rocafort
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    The New 52 “Teen Titans” were about as wrongheaded a take on the characters as you could get. Red Robin was intentionally being wiped out of a history as part of Batman’s extended family (a point that would prove so contentious that not even writers, editors, and DC brass could agree on whether he was ever a real “Robin” or not), Wonder Girl was turned into a thief that absolutely did not want to be called “Wonder Girl”, Beast Boy was turned red (presumably a “cooler” color than green, because it’s the same color as blood, y’all), and Bart Allen was, well, is he related to the Flash family or not?

    Admittedly, we were introduced to Bunker (a character that I personally think has been more of a boon to “Teen Titans” than a failure) and they did give a logical story-based reason for Beast Boy’s red appearance (a tie-in with the ongoing “Animal Man” and “the red” from that comic’s lore), but those were only a scant few things that “Teen Titans” actually seemed to have thought through.

    Will Pfeiffer and Kenneth Rocafort’s “Teen Titans” relaunch came to the rescue, in some small way, but still didn’t separate itself enough from the pack. At least now they’re willing to admit that Tim Drake was a Robin and that Batman was a huge influence. Here, Tim spends much of the preview debating with Cassie (Wonder Girl) about how they should be treating Superboy (a potentially dangerous being). Throughout the preview, Tim’s Wayne-influence shines through in a number of ways. But “Teen Titans” still feels unwilling to truly tie itself to the adult characters of the DCU, almost totally disregarding the legacy aspect – something that DC has always had over Marvel. So while “Teen Titans” under Pfeiffer and Rocafort is coming a lot closer to being a decent comics – it’s still a ways off from feeling like a great Teen Titans comic – and a once-great DC Comics property.

    I’ve always been a fan of Rocafort’s art, as his wispy, yet angular take on the DC characters has always felt entirely his own. Somehow a distillation of the best art of the ’90s, without falling prey to the ridiculous proportions, lack of attention to detail, and laziness that ’90s art carried with it. Rocafort draws a handsome young group, and manages to make some uninspired costume designs look decent. I’m surprised that in the age of the reboot, so many of these designs have stuck around since the dawn of the New 52. They could sorely use a re-design as the evolution of the Teen Titans goes forward.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – Another DC book that is improving with the “New 52” label behind it, but only incrementally. A return to a legacy feel would help the book stand out.

    TL; DR

    Brian’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Martian Manhunter

    Best Returning Book: Grayson

    Biggest Surprise: Teen Titans

    Biggest Disappointment: Batman/Superman

    Vince’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Martian Manhunter

    Best Returning Book: Grayson

    Biggest Surprise: Martian Manhunter

    Biggest Disappointment: Batman Beyond

    Zach’s Picks:

    Best New Book: Martian Manhunter

    Best Returning Book: Catwoman

    Biggest Surprise: Martian Manhunter

    Biggest Disappointment: Batman/Superman

    //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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