Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Throwback Review: Divergence FCBD Special Edition #1 (2015) Review

Written by: Scott Snyder, Gene Luen Yang, and Geoff Johns
Art by: Greg Capullo, John Romita, Jr. and Jason Fabok
Cover Price: FREE
Release Date: May 2, 2015

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD for all you lazy bones out there) is here again and DC Comics is using a cheapskates dream day to get everyone pumped up and up to speed on what's coming to three of your favorite books in June.  While I have been enjoying Convergence myself, I've talked to a bunch of people who have sat out this Event and are waiting for their regularly scheduled programs to return in another month.  Well, this book is for you...and me...and everybody who can get their hands on a copy today.

I actually debated with myself whether or not to even post this as a review.  I am going to assign a score to the book in general, but mainly discuss my thoughts on each story and what it means going forward.  Because of that, I am going to do something I really don't like to do...Spoil the crap out of this issue.  If you don't want things spoiled, turn away now and (hopefully) come back after you've read it for yourself.  On to the "review"...

Batman: The Rookie

It's hard to actually spoil this story since it was outed for ages now.  In fact, it's so spoiled that it's rancid.  Like an egg salad in the hot...I think you get the point.  If you've read Batman #40 (and if you haven't, what the hell are you waiting for?), you will know the sad, sad truth that Batman is dead.  If you are like me, you held out a little glimmer of hope that it wasn't true.  Guess what?  It is.

The issue opens with a cool little scene that we already saw through the window of Alfred's Hospital room at the end of Batman #40...the sky is full of Batman symbols.  However, we see the real story behind it...Gotham is holding a memorial for the Dark Knight.  It really hit home as a reader, but also as someone who likes to think of these things as "real".  What is Gotham going to do now that Batman is really gone?

Scott Snyder gets right to the answer.  Gotham is a tough city and it's so fitting that they waste no time coming up with a solution.  Gotham needs a Batman, so they are going to make one.  The Powers Corporation has manufactured a Batman substitute...the image everyone has seen.  Mecha Batman!  I'll admit it, I was one of the many that groaned when I first saw the solicits for June debuting the suit.  I don't know what happened, the time has passed, the ending of Batman #40, my excitement for the June books...but seeing this here, I like it.  It also could be the identity of the man inside the suit.

This is the part that I really wished wasn't spoiled beforehand.  The whole story leads up to one kickass cliffhanger...Jim Gordon is Batman!  Damn you, internet.  The final page would have blown my mind, but it is still great.  I do want to know what Jim Gordon's workout regime was because the dude looks buff.  I really like his trepidations towards the whole thing (that Snyder said was him talking as well), but in the end, I want Batman #41 right now.

Well, Batman's dead.  Of course, Snyder leaves a backdoor way for him to return, but I now realize that it won't be for a while at least.  My hopes were dashed, but at the same time, I am so excited about this new direction.  Batman has been a great book in the New 52 and Snyder is really making sure that things won't go stale.  I just wonder if people will keep buying a Batman book without Bruce Wayne/Batman.  I guess we will find out.

Superman: Exposed

This is Superman fans first look at new writer Gene Luen Yang and I was impressed.  I'm mainly talking about the dialogue which I really liked, especially between Clark and Jimmy.  The story, on the other hand...

It is pretty good as well.  It seems that John Romita Jr's Superman #40 was not just a throwaway issue after all.  This issue takes place sometime after that and a couple major things have happened in the meantime.  If you read the last issue of Superman, you know it ended with a bruised Clark showing up at the Daily Planet and Lois acting very suspicious.  We'll she went and did the unthinkable.  She outed Clark.

Yes, this story is all about Superman dealing with everyone knowing his secret.  I don't know if hiding from everyone was a great solution, but that's the direction Yang is going.  Actually, after how the general public reacts to a Superman sighting, I can see why he did it.  After a minor villain seeks out Superman for a dose of revenge and respect, the Internet lights up with Superman hate the likes I haven't seen since  Man of Steel came out.  Seriously, the Internet is an awful place.  The issue ends with Lois trying to make things right by saying she's sorry and offering Clark money.  Sorry, ain't gonna cut it, Lois.

Boy, this changes up the DCU big time.  I know that some think those secret identities are a dated concept, but I like them.  Besides that, I had a few problems with this story.  I didn't really like Clark alluding to not being 100%.  I think I'm making an educated guess that he's referring to his Solar Flare experiments in Superman #40 and I was hoping that was a thing of the past.  I guess all those writers making him into an atomic bomb did have lasting effects.  I also thought it was funny that while Superman is trying to hide, he still has his costume on under a hoodie.  Way to think ahead, Clark.

However, my overall feeling after reading this is that Superman is in good hands.  Like I said, the dialogue between Superman and Jimmy was great and even though I hate Lois whit all my being right now, the interaction between her and Clark is bound to be interesting.  Just a note to Yang...please don't jump hard on the texting/twitter trolley that has invaded some other books (I'm looking at you, Batgirl), because it comes off as a bit silly and will feel dated very quickly.

Justice League: Darkseid War Prologue Two: The Other Amazon

This story is the one I have the least to really talk about but has me just as excited as the other two.  If you read Justice League #40, then you had to be pumped after it's an awesome cliffhanger.  Well, this is her origin story...and a little bit more.

Yes, this story is all about Darkseid's daughter, Grail.  We get to see her birth on Themyscira and that in itself is pretty cool, but we also see a prophecy.  As Grail is born (and is connected in a great way with Wonder Woman), the oracle, Menalippe, sees the future and the future sure isn't bright.  In fact, Grail is destined to start a war with her father that will rip the Universe in shreds...The Darkseid War.  Dum Dum Dumm.

Geoff Johns could have stopped there and I would have been all in, but Johns goes further.  We get a prophecy of all those involved in the war...Hal Jordan, Batman, Wonder Woman...everyone.  Again, things do not look good and that just ups my excitement for the Darkseid War to eleven.  Eleven!

I didn't talk about the art in the two other stories, but I have to mention it here.  Jason Fabok kicks ass, but I also have to give full kudos to the colorist, Brad Anderson.  This story looks outstanding.

Bits and Pieces:

Wow, this little comic sure does set up a new landscape for the DCU come June.  This Free Comic Book Day joint gives us a new Batman, a new writer changing the status quo on Superman and a peek at the future of the Justice League.  Plus, it's FREE!  Go grab it at your local comic book store or any way you can get your hands on it.


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