Welcome to the Second Wave

Worlds’ Finest #1

Well, the second wave of the DC Reboot starts with this title (I’m not counting “Earth 2,” which looks awful, is written by James Robinson, who seemingly gets hackier with every word he writes. “Earth 2” was apparently designed to turn DC’s awesome Golden Age heroes into grim-and-gritty 1990s douchecanoes). Most of what we get is backstory — Power Girl and the Huntress were originally the Supergirl and Robin of Earth 2. While trying to fight off a worldwide attack by Darkseid’s minions, the heroines fell into a Boom Tube and wound up on the world of the DC Reboot.

Now, five years after they got stuck here, they’re visiting Tokyo and toasting their successes — Karen Starr has become a wealthy entrepreneur, specializing in high-tech research and development, while Helena Wayne has adapted into a new costumed crimefighting persona. But there’s been an arson at one of Karen’s labs, and among the sabotaged equipment was a device that Karen hoped would return them to Earth 2. But who was the arsonist, and is he tougher than either Power Girl or the Huntress can handle?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good art, decent action, decent dialogue. I do have some quibbles. First is that Huntress’s Helena Bertinelli secret identity ends up getting unceremoniously dumped — which is really too bad, because I always liked the idea that a former mob princess could end up becoming a schoolteacher who moonlighted as a superhero. Seems like everything DC does these days is focused on making their universe smaller and less awesome, instead of larger and more fun. Second quibble? The new Power Girl costume is a complete disaster. It’s not like they gave Huntress a complete redesign — and there are plenty of amateur and semi-pro artists who’ve done cool redesigns of Power Girl’s costume while still making it look classic. But the new costume is really just embarrassingly bad.

Avengers Academy #29

Okay, Marvel’s new thing is the “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover, which I’ve been able to mostly ignore. Basically, the Phoenix Force is coming to Earth and likely gunning for Hope, one of the younger members of the X-Men. Cyclops thinks the Phoenix will revitalize the mutant population because — I don’t know, it makes no sense. And the Avengers think they can take Hope into custody and keep the Phoenix Force from getting to her because — I don’t know, that makes no sense either. Essentially, the whole point of the crossover is “OMG WE GOTTA HAVE A CROSSOVER, QUICK THINK OF SOMETHING RANDOM WE CAN FOIST ON READORZ”

Aaaaanyway, in an attempt to keep the young students from Utopia and the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning safe from the ongoing war, Captain America and Wolverine agree to let the folks at Avengers Academy take care of them for the time being. They say it’s not a matter of keeping the students prisoner… but it’s mostly about keeping the students prisoner. In addition to a vast number of mutants students, we’ve also got a mind-wiped Sebastian Shaw and a couple X-affiliated scientists. After Hercules proposes some athletics competitions to get the various students acquainted, X-23 gets to chat with Dust. Lightspeed has a race against Transonic, but the surfing competition between Finesse and Loa gets pre-empted when Loa uses her powers to let former surfer Mettle enjoy some earth-surfing. But the good feelings don’t last — most of the X-students can’t bring themselves to trust the kids from Avengers Academy — and Sebastian Shaw has some dire plans of his own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Once again, this comic goes for a nonviolent method of storytelling. There’s plenty of conflict, but no one goes for random pointless fisticuffs. Most comics would have these kids tearing each other apart by the mid-point of the story — so this is a great, refreshing change. My lone complaint about this story is that, while we get complete introductions to the students and teachers at Avengers Academy on the first page, we’re largely expected to be familiar with the X-kids already, and that just ain’t so.

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