For the first time since I first started writing this blog, I am able to come on here and proclaim to you all that James Robinson gets not one but TWO passing grades.
Neither of his books were the best piece of writing he's ever given us, mind you. Far from it. But, given the legend's lengthy slump, both were pleasant surprises.
And we start with the relaunch of one of DC's tent pole books, Justice League of America #38, written by Mr. Robinson and Mark Bagley. And let's get the negative out of the way: Yes, killing a marginal character to start an arc has gotten out of hand and cliche. Yes, the JLA returning to Happy Harbor to reflect has become cliche. Yes, this particular bunch of JLAers has been doing WAY too much of that reflecting lately. And yes, Despero is one of those characters, like Doomsday, which has become a shell of his formerly-terrifying self, due to overuse and misuse.
(Like I said, this certainly was not Robinson's best work).
But there was glimpses of promise here. For one, I'm looking forward to seeing who is powerful enough to control Despero. My guess would be Dreamweaver, leader of the Extremists. For two, I really don't mind the idea of JLA tying into "Blackest Night" so soon into Robinson's tenure. I know many critics allowed failed JLA scribe Dwayne McDuffie sympathy by thinking his book was editorially forced to tie into big events too often, but a good writer finds a way to tell his story around those bumps and thrive off of it. Some of the "Justice League International's " best issues were the result of a tie-in. And immediately you see Robinson is looking to wrap his tale around the tie-in here.
I'm no believer in "Cry for Justice" yet, you know that. And you also know that I'm not entirely sold on Robinson's advertised JLA roster. But there was enough in this issue to give me hope for the future, and that's something I didn't have in two years with McDuffie.
I was even more pleased with Blackest Night: Superman #3, the conclusion of the Smallville-based mini-series. As I wrote last night, I looked at this as a litmus test for the many "BN" minis to come, following a fairly-disappointing conclusion to the Batman mini. Well there was nothing ground breaking here, and yes, there was a bit of the 'ole deus ex machina in there, what with Conner stealing Psycho Pirate's smile, but the ending offered a better sense of closure than the ending of Batman's story.
So yes folks, the yellow alert is over, you can go back in the pool it because it was just a Baby Ruth. "BN" minis are officially safe to empty your wallet.
And before we leave the Superman universe, Supergirl #46 concluded the "Hunt for Reactron" crossover with "Action Comics," with a bang. I've said it before, I'll say it again, Sterling Gates has made "Supergirl" a very strong wing of the Superman universe. Here, we get a reunion between Kara and Thara, a revelation for Kara and Lana's relationship and even a very nice and subtle moment of understanding for Lois, who has previously been blaming the Maid of Might for her sister's death.
But, beyond the titular character, this issue also contains some enormous moments for Nightwing and Flamebird -- so enormous that I wouldn't even want to hint at what it was for those of you who have been patiently following their tale -- and I've decided that I really like this pair of characters. If they weren't starring in a book in which half the readers are just waiting for Clark Kent to come back, I doubt if they could sustain a book all their own, but Greg Rucka and, to a lesser extent, Gates deserve all the credit in the world for fleshing out two brand-new characters (yes, Chris as a grown up is an all new character compared to kid Chris) and making them compelling and human (excuse the irony). In these pages, I found myself hoping that DC has long-term plans and a long-term home for these two.
And with that, back to Pandora. Review is coming soon!