Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Wake #10 review

Last issue ended with the two story strands of this series drawn together, as 23rd-century woman Leeward met the 21st century's Lee Archer. Was the latter a ghost? A hologram? Somehow still alive after 200 years?

This issue we get answers, lots of them, as writer Scott Snyder and artist Sean Murphy bring their aquatic adventure to a close. I won't ruin the revelations - what The Wake is, for example - safe to say they're mindbending, and fit the wild sci-fi adventure we've been following this past year. Answers aren't definitive, but the theories of Dr Archer make sense, and there's a nice close to her emotional arc.

Snyder and Murphy's visual narrative is, once more, a treat, with loads going on in terms of character and setting. The words intrigue, the pictures fascinate - The Wake's genre-mixing carnival of ideas is something I'll be revisiting often over the years. And I bet I'll always find something new - a script subtlety I'd missed, or a clever visual nugget. 

Colourist Matt Hollingsworth and letterer Jared K Fletcher have also been along for the entire ride, and deserve credit for The Wake's steady pleasures, along with editors Sara Miller, Mark Doyle and cover artist Andrew Robinson,

The ending offers scope for more from this world Snyder and Murphy have so satisfyingly built, but if there isn't a sequel, fine - these ten issues will stand alone as a fine collected edition, just as they've been a superb monthly read.

Aquaman Annual #2 review

It's team-up time, as Aquaman recruits Wonder Woman to track down members of the Giant-Born, monsters of myth released recently by a duped archaeologist. Diana's knowledge of Classical mores leads them to a French chateau, where the beasts are feeding on the life force of locals and tourists. Cue fighting - an awful lot of fighting - before our heroes end the problem and restore the human victims.

Well, so far ... it turns out that the monster's captives can't be fully as they were; they're left a little older, a tad weaker, feeding into writer Jeff Parker's message that we all must eventually accept our time on this planet is limited.

The story, being basically a big old bash-fest, is enjoyable on those terms, but it's made even better by the interaction of Arthur and Diana as we see their opinions on one another's approach to fighting bad things powerful enough to end them - do I detect a nod, above, towards Diana's Max Lord moment of the last continuity? And courtesy of sinister siren Celeana, we hear what may be Arthur and Diana's inner thoughts on one another. One of my favourite moments is this seemingly throwaway exchange, reflecting something I've long wondered.

Why don't superheroes take advantage of their privileged potential and see the world? They're either in their home city, or space. It's refreshing as heck to see a couple on my own continent.

It's also rather wonderful, in the world of DC's New 52, to see the Justice Leaguers out and out get on. She's the Queen of Themyscira, he's the King of Atlantis, but there's no royal rivalry - it's respect and affection all the way.

I like the subtle touches - the disguised lackey hiding a third arm under his shirt; the Giant-Born thinking that 'medieval peasant' is the dominant 21st-century French look; Aquaman keeping his gloves on while out of costume.

The denouement (see, we're soooo French) is on the one hand, a deus ex machina (Latin too), on the other, entirely in keeping with the story set-up. And if you can't have a deus ex machina when dealing with gods and monsters, when can you?

Yvel Guichet's pencil art is clean, dynamic and filled to the brim with scary creatures - and the odd cutie. He captures the creepiness of Celeana's rubbish human disguise and the fear of her captives. Aquaman and Wonder Woman look great, whether in civvies or costume (they change mid-battle, a bit of superhero silliness I always enjoy). 

In an especially imaginative touch, the opening recap of the Giant-Born's introduction in the Aquaman monthly is illustrated in the style of a Grecian urn. 

The issue has two inkers working with Guichet, Jason Gorder and Wayne Faucher, but you'd never see the join; it's good work from both men. Nathan Eyring's colours are a juicy confection, bright but never sickly, with all the beasties nicely differentiated. 

I was initially disappointed to see the story entitled Born of Giants Part 1 ... then Part 2 showed up in this very same issue - a team-up between Diana and Mera to mop up the monsters who fled to the Aegean rather than France after their initial escape from a hell-dimension. Parker, penciller Alvaro Martinez and inker Raul Fernandez produce a cracking wee tale. In just ten pages they show why Mera deserves to be on the JLA alongside her husband and Wonder Woman, as powers, strategy and guts combine to take down the last of the Giant-Born. Here's my favourite moment.

Water shark!

I also appreciate the opening remarks as our heroines meet, and the final image echoing a couple of classic Silver Age Aquaman covers.

Eyring colours once more and, as with the main story, Rob Leigh does a good job with the lettering.

With a cover by Guichet, inker Danny Miki and colourist Rain Beredo adding another layer of Splendid, Aquaman Annual #2 comes thoroughly recommended for lovers of superhero slugfests and character dynamics.

Bodies #1 review

Four detectives. Four time periods. Four bodies.

Or is it only one body, appearing at different points in the same London street - 1890, 1940, 2014 and 2050? That's the high concept in Si Spencer's new Vertigo series, but it's not the only reason to check it out. Each vignette features authentic dialogue that will delight lovers of words (admittedly, I don't know how cops will speak several years from now, but this is fantastic fiction and it works), while the story is nicely structured.

The words give a sense of place, as does the artwork from a quartet of talents. In order of time period, we have Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick and Tula Lotay, and all offer enticing images as part of their overall storytelling. Equally important are the colours of Lee Loughridge, with different treatments for each segment, while the letters of Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito add character of their own. Fiona Stephenson's cover, adorned by Steve Cook's fascinating logo, are the icing on the visual cake.

Our four detectives are a rum bunch - Inspector Edmond Hillinghead, a fair man with little time for the masonic style nonsense in which his Victorian colleagues dabble; Inspector Charles Whiteman, racist policeman trying to keep his German background under wraps during the Blitz; DS Shahara Hasan, modern day special patrol group officer; and Maplewood, apparently addled future cop.

While the latter is the least immediately engaging - because Spencer requires me to do actual work in order to understand her story, darn him - her chapter is a grabber. And I like her black humour.

Bodies is a thoroughly good read, a great-looking puzzle box set to open up over the next eight months. Give it a try.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Star Spangled War Stories #1 review

After the sales disappointment of New 52 titles Men of War and GI Combat, DC bravely makes another foray into the war genre. The USP here is that the star of Star Spangled War Stories is a zombie. 

Now, I'm not the biggest zombie fan, but I am a follower of writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and illustrator Scott Hampton. Darwyn Cooke likewise gets my attention with his cover image of an undead soldier presiding over a scene of carnage. 

Turns out, this opening image is all kinds of misleading. Yes, the title character is a soldier, but he isn't fighting in one of the classic theatres of war - he's on the home front of today, working as an FBI agent. And I don't mind a bit, because what's behind the covers is far more than I was expecting. 

This packed opening chapter is so twisty-turny that even laying out the set-up will have you second guessing - just trust me, if you like dark drama with multi-layered characters and pitch-black humour, Star Spangled War Stories is worth a read. While some of the dialogue is a tad ripe, I can see an in-story reason; all in all, the script is surprising, suspenseful and absorbing. There's no way I'm missing the next instalment. 

Hampton has been producing moody comic art for decades and his work here doesn't disappoint. The realism of the main characters draws me into the story - I'm assuming photo reference has been used. The downside of this is that occasionally the expressions don't match the dialogue. Still, it's a pleasure to see Hampton's full-colour work as his imagination and craft ground the fantasy of GI Zombie. Things get pretty graphic, so if you're not down with blood-spurting limbs, avoid. But I imagine anyone buying a book with 'zombie' in the title will cope. (Speaking of the title, would someone please insert the missing hyphen from compound adjective 'Star Spangled'?)

Will Star Spangled War Stories give DC the non-superhero hit it craves? If quality counts, there's no doubt that it will. Sadly, readers - me among 'em - don't always give new books a try. If DC has any sense at all they'll be giving away copies at the San Diego Comic Con over the next week, to get some buzz going. There'll be a preview in their other titles this month. House ads, Channel 52 ... anything to get eyes on a very promising new book. Given I want this series around for awhile, it's fingers crossed DC's marketing maestros step up to the plate. Otherwise, this is one very dead zombie. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Storm #1 review

Welcome to your first ongoing series, Storm. Hope you survive the experience. 

Actually, the old X-Men catchphrase doesn't apply in this debut issue, as Storm is so powerful, so self-assured, there seems little she can't handle. Certainly the thugs who don't like her interfering - that is, saving lives - in their small state of Santo Marco seem little threat to the weather witch. 

They are, though, a real problem for the people Storm wants to protect, giving her a different kind of headache. Should she hang around and show the bullies who's boss, and likely make things worse for the people after she's left, or retreat for now, keeping delicate pro-mutant negotiations on track?

Back at the Jean Grey School, headmistress Ororo has another problem in the shape of a rebellious young pupil who challenges her beliefs. 

Writer Greg Pak lays out Storm's character and situation with admirable economy, telling us everything we need to know about her in the first few pages. The fact that she was written for decades by Chris Claremont, the king of internal narratives, doesn't hurt ... it makes Ororo's running commentary seem the most natural thing in the world. 

And Pak doesn't make things entirely easy for the First Lady of the X-Men; as well as the moral dilemma and tactical problem, Ororo does feel pain, as the tsunami she's trying to stop kicks back. 

It's also good that Pak doesn't present Ororo as the untouchable, perfect goddess she's been at times. She gets things wrong, she gets things right - she's a person, not perfection. 

The art is pretty much perfection, mind, with illustrator Victor Ibanez and colour artist Ruth Redmond depicting Ororo as strong, graceful, a true force of nature in power and personality. They do a similarly fine job with the supporting players, especially new mutant Creep, and the Beast - hate Hank's current design as I do, there's no denying they capture the look well. Ibanez and Redmond also conjure a convincing Santo Marco, full of convincing people and weaponry against realistic backgrounds. 

I've not heard what the direction of this series will be, though threads set up here look to be continuing. I hope it's not too school heavy, else what's the point of this being a Storm solo book? If Hawkeye's series can be about what he does when he's not an Avenger, why not have this concern what Ororo does when she's not an X-Man? OK, she's a busy headmistress, but hey, Logan's being headmaster has never got in the way of Wolverine's own stories.  We know Storm can fly solo. Let's see it.  

Batman #33 review

As the Zero Year storyline concludes, Batman is finally face to face with the Riddler, but it's Edward Nygma who has the upper hand. The Riddler has a proposition - if Batman correctly answers 12 riddles, a dozen weather balloons won't rain death down on Gotham's citizens. 

Even if Batman succeeds, the city isn't safe - government jets are heading for the metropolis to lance what has become a boil on the American landscape. Only a desperate Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox and a SWAT team stand between Gotham and a quick end. 

And so the year-long storyline, which has been broken down into three acts, comes to a satisfying conclusion. 

I was dubious about Zero Year when the sequence was announced, as it sounded like we were getting a verrrrry long version of Batman's origin. Happily, that initial impression was wrong. What writer Scott Snyder and penciller Greg Capullo have given us is a fascinating look at Batman's beginnings which, while dipping into existing parts of the legend, has added detail here, finessed aspects there, and introduced enough new elements to keep the most jaded reader on board. 

The conclusion again provides reasons to cheer both cast and creative team, with my favourite moment being Batman delivering his own punchline to the ever-smug Riddler's conundrum. Little mysteries are explained, subplots addressed and, finally, the ad hoc adventurer who has struggled against both his villains and himself emerges as Batman triumphant, swinging towards his destiny. 

As he's done throughout, Snyder scatters his script with fun facts, making a thrill ride educational too, while dialogue and action succinctly define the young Batman and Riddler, establishing a new dynamic to carry them forward in the recently revised continuity. 

Supporting characters are treated equally well, with the aforementioned Jim, Lucius and the indispensable Alfred claiming their places in the Batman legend. (I may be reading too much into it, but a scene in which Jim receives much-needed inspiration looks to me like a subtle callback to a well-known night at Wayne Manor.) One of Bruce Wayne's lesser-known girlfriends also shows up, slightly different to her traditional mode, and I can't wait to see what plans Snyder has for her. 

The artists' work on this final chapter caps a Batman run that looks like no other. Capullo and inking partner Danny Miki provide fine storytelling filled with memorably attractive images. They visually define and redefine Gotham and its inhabitants with craft and style.

I don't know whether the business with the Riddler's hat, cane and laser beams, for example, was originated by Snyder or Capullo, but the artists pull the scene off with all the intelligence and talent we've come to expect. 

Throughout the storyline colour artist FCO Plascencia has veered away from what we think of as the 21st-century Batman palette with winning results, and he sees that experiment through to the end. From the naturalistic hues used for the urban efforts of Lucius and Jim, to the neon nightmare of the Riddler's lair, the colour work sings - if ever justification were needed for DC's recent decision to give colourists cover credit, here it is. 

Credit, too, to Dezi Sienty, whose always sharp lettering makes for an easy read. 

The cover could be more of a summation of this chapter - it's a beautiful illustration, but one fitted to Batman's lion wrangling of an issue or so back - but let it pass. 

The entire creative crew has produced consistently fine work, resulting in a story that belongs in every Batman fan's library. 

Zero Year? More like Hero Year. 

Superman #33 review

Metropolis is buzzing about the new hero who made the scene last issue. At the Daily Planet editorial conference, Perry White asks all the right questions:

Yeah, what's with the long hair? As for the cape, Ulysses gets one later. Sort of.

Perry sets his team off to explore the story from various angles, with Lois Lane tasked with the big assignment - an interview with the lank-locked superhuman. Our girl is confident she can follow up her long-ago Superman exclusive with a similar-sized scoop.

Clark Kent wants answers too, and shows up at the office asking for Perry's help. A lifetime ago, the Planet editor went deep behind the walls of the Ulysses project which connects to the new hero who helped Superman best a mystery villain last time. Of course, he can't compromise his secret identity by telling Perry how much he knows and why. Old newsman Perry plays hardball - he'll tell Clark all he knows if Clark writes up his findings for the Planet, and agrees to pack in his news blogging for a staff job.

The pair's negotiation is interrupted as the subject of their conversation shows up at the Planet, having been looking for Superman. With no knowledge of the secret identity concept, he doesn't see a disguised Superman before him, just his new friend with different clothes and glasses ...

It's a terrific opening to the second issue by the new Superman creative team of Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson. In eight pages Johns gives us the best Daily Planet scene in maybe a decade, and that's mainly down to one character - Perry White. Too often neglected, Johns reinstates him as the heart of the newspaper, a grizzled newshound who always asks the right questions and knows which of his staff are best suited to get the answers. He tells Clark, 'I'm drowning in mediocrity...' but he doesn't believe that for a minute. 

And Romita and Janson draw the pages perfectly, paying attention to expressions, movement and body language - this isn't a long sequence of talking heads, it's a fascinating people drama that has me yearning for a 'solo' Daily Planet series. I want more of this new Lombard, more laid-back amusing than boorish; new hack Jackee with her zest for life; super-efficient Ron Troupe; the Jimmy Olsen/Lois Lane team; and I can't wait to see the 'as good as signed' Cat Grant.

And as Perry is the heart of the Planet, so the Planet is the heart of a good Superman story. A writer can throw all the cosmic threats they want at Superman, but if he's not grounded as Clark Kent among a crew of dynamic, fun characters, what's the point? What is he fighting for?

Ulysses is fighting to protect his fellow humans, even if they're not the ones he knows from Dimension 2. Johns perhaps overplays the stranger in a strange land bit, making him seem more a Forrest Gump bumbler than a thinking hero, but when a bunch of giant toy soldiers interrupt his first encounter with Metropolis' favourite snack, he gets the job done. Not being much of a thinker, though, he makes rather a mess of a city street, ticking Superman off a tad when he arrives from investigating the Ulysses Research Lab (Url, which I rather like). Mind, this does give Johns a chance to sideways reference last year's Zod battle on the big screen in a way which has me nodding in approval.

There's an ending I didn't see coming, and another tiny not-quite-appearance by some mysterious figure from Superman's past. 

Superman #33 is a splendid issue, one which leaves me far more engaged in Johns' Men of Tomorrow storyline than I was last month. My only real negative criticism remains, that Clark is such an old misery guts. You know, he's got a mystery to solve, but rather than show the fire of a great investigative reporter, Clark seems burdened. Yes, he gets results, but he's so much not a people person here.

This is further evidenced by the way he treats Ulyssses, patronising the heck out of him. Sure, he doesn't seem the brightest bulb, but his good intentions are obvious. Rather than allow him to be by his side as he probes his story, though, Superman tells Ulysses to stay put in his apartment until he gets back (if he really wanted Ulysses to be usefully distracted he might have said to go get a haircut...).

And Clark completely dismisses Ulysses' knowledge of his old foe Klerik. That's going to bounce back and bite Superman on his armoured arse. 

Still, the story's going in the right direction, in an overall entertaining manner, and looking better by the issue. I'm intrigued by the person behind the scenes, and the toy soldiers and last issue's robot Titano have me hoping for a decent Toyman revamp. Clark's going to be back on the Planet staff any minute and Ulysses could wind up a useful superhero supporting player in the Vartox mould.

Johns and Romita are quickly developing a synergy: Romita deals well with a few very chatty pages, Johns knows when to turn off the talk and let Romita, Janson and the mainly excellent colours of Laura Martin (psst, forget 'realism', Superman's hair has blue highlights) convey the story.

The trio are also responsible for the moody cover, which amplifies a small moment inside into an image replete with foreboding. It's great work.

Romita's getting better at conveying Superman's flight, making him seem weightless, as if he's being drawn into the air. He looks a tad hunched at times, but I expect Superman will relax more as Romita gets used to the New 52 mandarin collar design.

All in all, a more than solid Superman issue, one which has me full of optimism for the future. It's amazing what a little Daily Planet can do.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Robin Rises Omega #1 review

Batman's ongoing quest to bring Damian Wayne back from the dead spins off into a special as DC starts counting down to the the return of Robin. 

Will it be Damian by Batman's side when the story ends at the turn of the year? It certainly seems so, given how long the sequence has been going on, and how it's apparently going to continue in the same direction. A swerve isn't out of the question, but this issue begins with a recap of Damian's life and death, and ends with Batman swearing to follow his corpse not so much to the ends of the earth as far beyond it. 

In between there's a tremendously entertaining, massively over the top battle with Glorious Godfrey. The Darkseid underling wants the Chaos Shard - from early issues of the Batman/Superman title - which is hidden in Damian's sarcophagus. Given it may have enough power to restore his dead son, Batman isn't having it. Cue Batman, Ra's al Ghul, Frankenstein and the League of Assassins vs Glorious Godfrey and his parademons. Bring in sundry other superheroes. Mix and duck. 

This really is enormous fun from writer Peter J Tomasi and artists Andy Kubert and Jonathan Glapion. The early pages, condensing several decades of comics history, is a masterclass in implausibility, and all the better for being presented utterly straight-faced in Bruce's narration. Kubert and Glapion draw in softer than usual style, and Brad Anderson goes impressionistic with the colours. I'd love to see them apply this style to an entire issue. 

Not that the rest of this double-sized book looks bad by comparison, it's more a case of differently excellent. The Kubert family style is to the fore - especially when we're looking at Ra's al Ghul, that's pure Joe Kubert - and it's a look I've loved for a long time. Andy Kubert's own artistic inclinations are much in evidence too, in terms of composition and movement. Add in Glapion's sharp finishes and Anderson's colours and we have sequences as good as the excellent opening. 

I do wish we didn't keep getting shown the wrapped corpse of ten-year-old Damian, though - too creepy. 

While the big battle which fills most of the issue is just good superhero comics, it was the little moments that really made me smile - Alfred sitting as equal head of the family at Wayne Manor dinner time; Glorious Godfrey tasting a snowflake. I'm a little sad to see Batman lashing out at colleagues in the final pages - Holy Recidivism! - but I suppose he needs to be desperate to journey to Apokolips. 

And that's where the Caped Crusader is going, as this storyline winds back into the Batman and Robin monthly for a while before the next Robin is unveiled in another special, Robin Rises Alpha (don't ask for an explanation of the backward titling, it's all Greek to me ... maybe Darkseid's Omega Effect will prove pivotal in reviving Damian). 

As a jumping-on point for the Return of Damian (or Not) storyline, this issue is a success. It's a comic that reads smoothly and looks great, recapping events and moving the story forward. I had a ball with it.

Supergirl #33 review

A wonderful last page. That's what this finale to the Red Daughter storyline has. I whooped, I smiled. Writer Tony Bedard has delivered on his promise to put some light into Kara's life

He does it literally, as well as metaphorically, as Kara uses the power of Earth's yellow sun to best Worldkiller-1, the sentient Kryptonian armour out to possess her. Before that happens, Bedard gives us a fine confrontation between Kara - still a member of the Red Lantern Corps - and W1 in Brazil. Forcing a fight in the packed favelas of Rio, W1 sees the natural concern Kara has for those less powerful than her as he tried to conquer/court her. 

She's using her rage at, oh, all sorts of things, to power her resistance to W1, but she harbours no resentment towards the people of Earth. Her recent travels, and travails, with the Red Lanterns seem to have changed Kara, given her some perspective on when anger is, and isn't, appropriate. And while the fury is there, so is the compassion that had become buried during her tormented first few months since waking up on Earth, lonely survivor of a destroyed world.  

Kara uses her Kryptonian powers and Red Lantern abilities, but in the end it's the intelligence she was born with, and the experience she's gained as a young hero, that saves the day. 

There's even a sign that she's coming round to liking cousin Kal - sometimes it takes a drastic situation to make you realise what you've got. 

By the end of the issue, Kara is no longer a Red Lantern, she's Supergirl once more. A better Supergirl, one ready to embrace her role as citizen, and protector, of Earth. 

I really want to reproduce the final page here, but it's the last page of an important story for Kara, and deserves to be experienced in context. It's a great moment that's been earned.  

Helping regular artist Emanuela Lupacchino by pencilling some pages is onetime Wonder Man artist Jeff Johnson. I think I can see who did what, but don't make me commit. Safe to say there's some good storytelling throughout, Kara remains on model and W1 looks suitably freaky. The Rio scenes look good (apparently the footie fans have gone home), there's a visual nod to something that happened to Supegirl in the Eighties and the space battle is a winner. Kara's moods are perfectly evoked, from anger to desperation to quiet triumph. A shout-out, too, to inkers Scott Hanna and Ray McCarthy, colourist Hifi, and letterer Rob Leigh, whose W1 font had me reading the baddie's words in a growly voice. That never happens. 

A great issue all round is marred only by a mislabeled two-page 'epilogue' which has no relation to anything that's ever happened in this series. It's by a different creative team and is an insult to Supergirl fans who pay to read about Kara's world. Apparently Superboy is going to be hanging out with Wildstorm's rubbish Gen 13 teen team. Another week, another terrible new direction ...

Gen 13 even gets really cheesey cover billing, squeezing the previously advertised image. Kara may be calm, but my rage is rising ...

Teen Titans #1 review

New direction, more attitude, in your face. That's the tagline for this first issue of a new Teen Titans volume. That, and the preview that ran in DC titles last week, had me expecting to be annoyed by this issue. Well, doesn't 'attitude' equal 'annoying'? It certainly did when attitude was zeitgeisty. 

Happily, the title characters here aren't irritating in the least. Wonder Girl, Red Robin, Bunker, Raven, Beast Boy ... while different in personality, they all come across as decent kids as they rescue a school bus from terrorists. The bad guys are out to do something nasty involving Star Labs, but our heroes aren't going to stand by and let that happen. 

Cue plenty of action, planned and improvised, which lets the young metahumans show they're not beginners any more. They know how to use their powers, they work well together - they're pretty much unrecognisable as the sour-faced, backbiting loners who populated the last run. OK, so Red Robin is still rather dour, but he is from Gotham. 

I'm not sure writer Will Pfeifer is trying to say anything with his story, other than 'I'm relaunching the team in a less New 52, more classic mode' (well, there is a tolerance message, but that's pretty much Bunker's every breath). I'll take that, and thank him. 

There's no forced 'edginess', no one is on the verge of villainy. A few baddies die, but there's no revelling in it and, while I'd rather they faced the courts, well, it serves 'em right. Perhaps as the story develops - this issue works as a one-and-done but it's also the beginning of something bigger - we'll see something of Pfeifer's world view. 

For now, though, I'm just delighted to see a story of the newest Titans that doesn't make me retch. Lots of camphones at the end of the issue set up the apparent direction which sees the Titans as celebrities. It's an overdone concept which doesn't excite me in the least, but Pfeifer wrote one of my favourite Aquaman runs - if you missed the Sub Diego stories, dive into the back issue bins - so he gets some leeway. 

Using Star Labs is a nice nod to the New Teen Titans launch of the Eighties, and it also allows some pre-New 52 DC characters to enter the revamped continuity. 

I spot Josiah Power of the Power Company super-team and Manchester Black of the Elite. Anyone recognise Jensen or 'Sir'?

Kenneth Rocafort's art is clean, energetic, full of fascinating layouts that don't get in the way of the storytelling. New York looks fantastic, and I appreciate the character he puts into the non-speaking bystanders. I like his take on all the characters, but Wonder Girl really does need straps on that costume. She'd be falling out of it every ten seconds, and isn't Cassie Sandsmark meant to be an adventurer, a practical type?

Rocafort's work is coloured by Dan Brown, who makes things fresh without being too bright, while John J Hill's letters are sharp and welcome. 

In an age when relaunches almost inevitably bring a price bump, kudos to DC for holding the Teen Titans line at $2.99. And even more thanks for giving the team a second chance at stardom. On the basis of this issue, it might just work.