Books Chapter & Verse

More DC Rebirth titles restore energy to tales of classic comic characters

The rejuvenated line of comics releases graphic novel collections of the Justice League, the Flash, Nightwing, and Green Lanterns

Since DC has launched the "Rebirth" of its line of comics, we've seen a fresh enthusiasm for telling new adventures about these classic characters while restoring many of the concepts readers loved that had been missing from their "New 52" initiative. The excitement continues with four new books.

Justice League Vol. 1 The Extinction Machines was written by Bryan Hitch with art by Hitch, Tony S. Daniel, and Jesus Merino. DC's premiere super team is back sporting a classic lineup of heroes – Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and not one but two Green Lanterns.

But there's little time for banter as the League is immediately thrown into a global adventure as they are caught between two immense forces from beyond the stars with Earth as their battleground literally cracking apart from the onslaught. The Kindred – celestial beings – gather on Earth to bring about something called the "Awakening" while a destructive force called the Purge assaults the planet in hopes of stopping them.

Oh and if that's not enough, there are devices called "Extinction Machines" buried deep underground threatening to shake Earth to pieces.

The League succeeds in saving Earth but the Kindred completes the "Awakening" that is destined to bring about something called "The Forever Crisis." This is epic-in-scope storytelling, a threat to the Earth that stretches the limits of earth's mightiest heroes. And we have to hope the League can stop whatever that is looming on the horizon. One of the best parts of this story is the League's dealing with the "new" Superman (see my previous review to learn more about him) is their midst. Batman doesn't trust him but realizes the Justice League needs a Superman, so it's an interesting new dynamic.

The Flash Vol.1 Lightning Strikes Twice is by writer Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Carmine Di Giandomenico with additional art by Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe, Andrew Currie, and Oclair Albert. Barry Allen is the Flash the fastest man alive but even with all his speed, Barry cannot be everywhere. But maybe he won't have to worry about that any longer when a storm powered by the Speed Force which gave Barry his powers hits Central City and gives the power of super speed to a whole new group of people.

One of them is Police Detective August Heart, who sees this gift as a way to finally bring to justice his brother's killer. Barry takes it upon himself to train the new speedsters but he quickly discovers one of them is the new villain Godspeed, who uses his powers to steal away the powers of his new pupils. As the Flash races to save his charges he now faces a foe that can use speed powers to literally be in two places at once!

We find out who wins that race but we're left with two intriguing subplots. The first is the whole mystery of "Rebirth" (see review) where Barry pulled his long-forgotten protege Wally West from oblivion to learn that an outside force has changed their universe. The second is who or what was behind the Speed Force storm that created the new speedsters. I hope the Flash can quickly gather the clues he needs to solve these mysteries in time!

Nightwing Vol.1 Better Than Batman by writer Tim Seely with art by Javier Fernández and Yanick Paquette returns Bruce Wayne's ward Dick Grayson back to his costumed identity. In the previous "New 52" DC universe Grayson abandoned his superhero persona to work as a secret agent for a covert organization called Spyral. Now he's back as Nightwing (his adult hero identity having outgrown his time as Batman's sidekick Robin).He is being blackmailed into working for the Parliament of Owls, a global group of wealthy men and women who seek to control the world from the shadows.

But in reality, Grayson is hoping to bring them to justice by working from inside the organization. Forced to work with a new partner, the mercenary Raptor, Grayson has to walk a tightrope of maintaining his ruse while not carrying out the Owls dark demands. On top of that, he's trying to restore his romance Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl, while pretending to be a villain in service of the Owls. And Raptor has a secret connection to Grayson's past as he tries to undo Batman's influence on the young hero. This is an action-packed start to Dick Grayson's new journey as he tries to honor his past with Batman while making his own mark in the world of superheroes as Nightwing.

Green Lanterns Vol.1 Rage Planet features a new duo of heroes Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. The story is written by Sam Humphries with art by Robson Rocha assisted by a small posse of talented artists. This is the adventure of two "green" Green Lanterns charged with protecting the Earth from alien threats while learning to use their powers and overcome the troubles of their past.

Baz is Lebanese-American and has been persecuted due to his ethnicity. He's understandably angry but sees his new responsibilities as a chance to start fresh and prove himself. Jessica Cruz was the only survivor of a horrendous crime and has lived as a shut-in for years. She wants to do the right thing but is plagued by anxiety and guilt. Their rings are controlled by will-power but Jessica can't seem to find it in herself. Baz and Cruz don't get along because of their differences but they have to learn to work together to stop an attack by the Red Lanterns.

Now where the Green Lanterns are powered by will, the Red are powered by Rage. Led by Atrocitus, the Red Lanterns have come to Earth to restore their power by bringing about something called the "Red Dawn." To do this they erect a Hell Tower which spreads rage throughout the planet. The rookie Lanterns have to find their own unique ways to be a hero in time to save the day. But in the end, is the "Red Dawn" still doomed to happen?

If you haven't read this titles in a while now a great time to do so. These new books offer exciting adventures showcasing some amazing powers but letting us see the humanity behind the masks. They may get knocked down a lot but they never stop trying to do the right thing, something I think we can identify with. They're all enjoyable reads with enough of compelling, dangling subplots that'll leave you anxiously waiting for the next volume. To be continued!

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