DC comic roundup week of Aug. 17 – Harley Quinn, Aquaman, Birds of Prey

DC Comics reviews for 8/17/16

Harley Quinn #2


Picking right up from the previous issue, Harley and company are dealing with a zombie invasion. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti aren’t at a shortage for inspired lunacy with this scenario.

Zombies have largely been played out, but in the world of Harley Quinn, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. The issue’s most absurd — and entertaining — involves Harley’s plan to save an ally with a catapult and a machine gun.

It’s somewhat disappointing that with just the second issue three artists have to collaborate. Regular artist Chad Hardin gets an assist from Bret Belvins on layouts for the first 10 pages before tagging out to John Timms. The switch in art styles is jarring as Timms draws Harley more realistically than Hardin’s more animated style.

Harley Quinn isn’t setting out to be the most serious title in the DC Rebirth era, but it’s on the fast track to being the craziest and unpredictable. With this title and this creative team, that’s all fans should need.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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Aquaman #5

The U.S. military learn it’s not nice to upset Aquaman and his future queen.

Storywise there’s not a lot of developments. It’s basically just Aquaman and Mera casually destroying military property and trying to avoid seriously hurting the soldiers. Mera freed Aquaman from U.S. custody and the Atlantean couple now faces the repercussions. Writer Dan Abnett showcases some interesting different uses of Mera’s water manipulation powers. If nothing else the issue proves Mera is a formidable threat even with no significant body of water immediately apparent. Overall, the issue is largely forgettable since little occurs to progress the story forward.

Abnett has some fun playing around with one of the few DC superhero couples as Aquaman and Mera have a minor tiff over their predicament. Black Manta meanwhile gets in deeper with N.E.M.O. in what continues to be an intriguing subplot.

Philippe Briones’ art is effective, but occasionally some of the faces look oddly proportioned. The art team on Aquaman has been constantly revolving. I’d like to see Brad Walker tackle a consistent string of issues as he has been the standout artist of the bunch. Gabe Eltaeb’s colors remain one of the best in the entire DC stable with a richness that gives the story an added boost of energy.

This was the weakest installment of the series so far thanks to its lack of significant storyline advancement. By issue 5, it feels like more should have happened by this point. The issue ends on a promising note with the appearance of a major DC character that should give the story a stronger conflict than the military distrusting Aquaman.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey got the band together as the creative team continues working through some early kinks.

Batgirl and Black Canary are tracking various leads to learn who’s masquerading as Oracle. The Huntress is after faux-Oracle for another reason and their paths continue to cross.

batgirl and the birds of prey

The tone of the book remains a work in progress. That seems to be a result of having Black Canary serve as the narrator. Team books largely don’t need narration. In this case, that gives Canary ‘two’ voices while Huntress and Batgirl vie for panel time.

Batgirl’s portrayal continues to seem off. Julie and Shawna Benson have Batgirl acting wholly out of character when she’d typically just outsmart her doppelganger.

Another issue is some of the dialogue. Lines like ‘Pretty sure that kitty eats broken glass for breakfast’ and ‘Big girls don’t cry’ don’t sound organic and seem tossed in because they sounded good. Still, there’s some solid character moments and one hilarious bit involving a criminal the BOP track down.

Claire Roe’s art is solid on the wide shots and action sequences, but the character faces and expressions remain exaggerated. Roe favors big noses, teeth close-ups and expressions that don’t fully compliment the script.

I would have liked the Bensons to take a little longer in bringing Huntress onto the team. It didn’t feel especially natural and played out more like that’s what’s supposed to happen. With the team united and going after a common foe, the series could start to turn the corner and fully take flight.

Rating: 6 out of 10

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