Today sees the concluding issue of Brightest Day, and despite the return of the Swamp Thing to the main DC universe, I am finding it difficult to rouse enthusiasm for it. As much as the ending of the previous issue took me by surprise, Swampy seems somewhat out of his element here. He has never been comfortable around the capes, either as a character or for the reader. I only hope this does lead to an ongoing for the character afterwards, where he can return to his roots (excuse the pun), that of hovering on the very outskirts of the DCU. Admittedly I am judging purely on the six-page preview at Newsarama (and having read the other twenty three issues), but I think I am safe in this.
Seeing what has happened to the other characters in this series, I fail to see a way forward without a total revamp. Making the Hawks elementals of air, on top of their reincarnation curse, the damage done to them by the original Crisis and the mess that all the post Zero Hour animal avatar business; is a course that can only end poorly. In the meantime, Martian Manhunter as an elemental of the Earth? I suppose it sort of fits with his C853rd version who was formed from the sands of Mars itself, but again, tenuous and illogical. The only one that vaguely makes sense is Firestorm; yet didn’t we establish that the true elemental was Professor Stein, and not Ronnie? The Elemental of Earth is also the incarnation of the Big Bang? Sounds like a poor choice of the White Lantern and the writer to me.
Another title that is risking losing its identity is the current Justice League of America, written by James Robinson. Aside from a promising start, the title seems too action-packed, and we are losing sight of the actual characters themselves, except of course Congorilla and Starman Mikaal Tomas.
This is not the main League. No Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman; no Martian Manhunter (too busy being dead and playing sandcastles), not even Booster Gold! This is the second generation, Dick Grayson, Donna Troy and Supergirl.
I for one expect to see more personal moments of Dick and Donna, not only coming to terms with their larger role, but just aspects of their life. Dick may have other titles to fall back on, but Donna doesn’t. Nor Jade, nor Jesse Quick, truly engaging and likable characters when we get chance to see their personalities, and their personal lives.
Donna’s previous title has turned into the Arsenal/Speedy/Red Arrow junkie spotlight peppered with villains; so she has no home to go back to. She could really blossom here, but I find that after several issues of fight scene, I really don’t care what happens. A lifelong Titans fan, I want to care; and I feel robbed.
This month, we also see the start of Spider Man: Identity Wars, where alongside Hulk and Deadpool, he travels to a world where he is loved and a success. What? Where would we be without Peter’s whining? Hopefully, I will eat my words on this, but I fail to see the hook.
With all the alternate reality stories out there – Age of X coming to an end, Flashpoint kicking off; I want my mainstream reality to be something I value. JLA makes me hope for more alternate realities! It’s not even cancelled for Flashpoint, while good titles such as R.E.B.E.L.S have bit the dust.
A word to the writers out there – after several major crossover events, it would be nice to settle down for a while, have a few less ultra-cosmic shiny colours and a little more substance. A balance between the two has been maintained in the Avengers recently; and if I had to choose between the two? Quiet personal moments over cosmic threats any day. At least for a while.