DC Universe Presents
OMAC - Origins Matter After Cancellation: Keith Giffen, Dan DiDio, Scott Koblish, Hi-Fi, Travis Lanham
Mister Terrific: James Robinson, Tom Derenick, Mike Atiyeh, Dave Sharpe
Hawk & Dove - Balance of Power: Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels, Matt Yackey, Dezi Sienty
Blackhawks - Mother Machine: Tony Bedard, Carlos Rodriguez, Bit, Guy Major, Carlos M. Mangual
Deadman - Instant Karma: Tony Bedard, Scott McDaniel, Guy Major, Dave Sharpe
Five stories. Four canceled titles. And only those that were canceled are allowed to grace the cover with their presence. Two of these books I never read, so I won’t be able to give any kind of comparison to what they were like before. Hold on tight, this might go long. Here we go.
I was wondering how the Brother Eye satellite would have fit into the DCnU, but apparently its origins remain very similar, as Brother Eye explains it. The story here is his, not so much OMAC’s or Kevin Kho’s. He talks to Maxwell Lord about how he was created by a mysterious, wealthy, and powerful man (still Batman, apparently) who used the tech gained from the defeat of Darkseid in Justice League to enhance the Brother One’s metahuman tracking abilities. The mother box tech allowed Brother One to become sentient and rename itself Brother Eye.
So why doesn’t Batman know about this? Why haven’t we seen some kind of conflict there in any of the Batman books? True, the concept seems really high superhero stuff, whereas the Bat-books never really carry that tone.
This story isn’t terrible, but it’s really old school. Dialog and page layouts, even the art style itself is straight out of the 80s. Makes me assume DiDio’s on art duties, while Giffen writes. The character designs are SUPER 80s as well. Look at Max. Why is he wearing pink? A lot of the images are really striking, and have such a retro feel that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. I know! Me, enjoy it!
Mister Terrific was awful. I’m really upset about this story. Why they didn’t ask Eric Wallace to come back and write this one is far beyond me, but Earth 2 scribe Robinson takes over and tells this benign, origin-shattering story that just pushed me over the edge.
So MT is first donning his costume, and actually refers to the T-mask as a separate element that fuses with his face. Except that, when Wallace wrote it, the mask was a t-sphere that molded into the mask. Nice job with the consistency there, Jimmy. He then finds a rift in the Ninth Dimension that he explores, and is shown his life: the death of his wife, his adventures in the Mister Terrific series Wallace wrote, his joining the “JSA” on Earth 2, and Terry Sloan’s shooting him (which, didn’t that happen AS Holt arrived on Earth 2? So, how could he have been on the “JSA” team if he refers to himself as dead there?).
Here’s the kicker…when he returns to his sanctuary, some kind of pulse or some crap wipes his memory, and the t-spheres, of everything he saw. So…it’s like it never happened at all. ….Then why did we just go through all that? Why not write something that actually takes place on Earth 2? Or show Michael losing his brother (who’s mentioned twice) and wife? That way there’s some kind of “theme” or “tone” - as we writers call them - in the story. AND THEN! To jam salt into an already painful, infected wound, the Aaron that appears to Michael Holt, the grown version of his unborn son, that tells him to help people and do something with his knowledge and tech…TURNS OUT TO BE TERRY SLOAN. Oh. Spoiler.
Sorry, I was just really pissed off about that. This was something genuine, something positive that came out of Michael’s life after he had experienced so much tragedy. And Robinson comes along and turns it into something twisted and malicious. I hate this Sloan character, and how he’s somehow able to plan all this from his own Earth 2 even though he knows nothing about Michael Holt. It makes no sense. This story was the worst for any reader who really enjoyed the Mister Terrific title.
Hawk & Dove was similarly bad, but not in the “screwing up origins” way. More in just the overall writing. This title was canceled way long ago, and why they thought to include it in the Zero Issue is beyond me, when they could’ve chosen to focus on another of the heroes featured in this title: Kid Flash. His origin is still unexplored. But I digress. Hawk & Dove here shows how Dawn Granger became the Avatar of Peace after Don Hall died, and how War, the actual embodiment of Chaos, is pissed off that Peace “manipulated” Dawn’s way into the place of Don, whom War deemed worthier.
Here’s what’s stupid about that. War spends the ENTIRE story saying how Peace is useless and will fall, and he will one day rule the world through war and chaos, blah blah blah typical “agent of chaos” touting. So…if the concept of peace is so useless and weak…why are you so upset about who Peace chooses to be their Avatar? Why is Dawn so much worse than Don? Wouldn’t you have hated Don too? He spends no time whatsoever talking up Hank or anything.
Remember those manipulations War was upset at Peace about? Well, Peace always denies her direct involvement in arranging Dawn’s place as Dove. But…she does. She talks about putting them together and strengthening their love, and - in the end - she says, “my manipulations will save the universe as we know it.” So which is it, Liefeld? Did she manipulate it or not? Also…is there a universe as we don’t know it? You would think powerful deities like War and Peace would be aware of that kind of thing. But, maybe not.
The art here is pretty mediocre, and very old-school. Definitely not my style. Colors are good, at least. The final words for this story are, “To Be Continued…” All I can think is, “God, I hope not.”
Blackhawks is next, another canceled title that DC saw fit to write one more story about…despite the books themselves not selling enough to keep them on the production line. I don’t think I understand this move they’re making with this issue. So this takes place while Apokolips is invading Earth, and the new team of soldiers, led by Lincoln, go in to rescue a captive squad member.
The writing is…I dunno, it felt more like a buddy comedy film than a military action comic. There’s military jargon, sure, but it doesn’t feel sincere…only like it was thrown in because they needed some semblance of a “soldier” tone to the story.
We are introduced to Mother Machine here, apparently a villain that wants to download programming into all people everywhere. She refers to herself as having an intelligence expanded into the worldwide “hive-mind,” which makes me wonder if she’s a New 52 version of Queen Bee. Or maybe a marriage of Brainiac tech and Queen Bee motivation. In any case, it feels like a lazy story that didn’t need to be told. How pertinent is this in a New 52 where Blackhawks was canceled? Also, I think that’s supposed to be “Batt” in the Inker credit, not Bit. Never heard of Bit. Sorry, Batt, if that’s the case.
Deadman was an interesting tale that tells us what happened right after his death and sentencing by the God, Rama. I liked that we were given this story, where Boston gets a chance to avenge his own death. We never get to see this for Deadman, so I liked the opportunity.
Of course, what happens within the story is never what Deadman thinks, and so he ends up regretting his actions…like always. It’s a little predictable, I’ll admit, but I still enjoyed it. You get to see both sides of Deadman: the indignant, self-absorbed man he used to be; and the caring, heroic ghost he became.
It’s also nice to see Scott McDaniel’s art again. I loved his work on Static Shock, and it’s cool to see Deadman done in his style, I do like it. It was also fun to go back to that first DC Universe Presents story that feels like came out forever ago (a year, actually).
DC Universe Presents #0, the verdict: Well. I found myself enjoying 2 out of 5 stories featured in this Zero Issue. That’s not what I would call a “hit,” especially considering the hefty price tag of $5.99. Of the four stories presented so far in the entirety of this title’s life, I’ve liked more than what’s shown here in the Zero Issue. OMAC was enjoyable, and gave us some necessary background on a major event that’s still timeline-questionable in the DC history, and had nice old-fashioned style art. Mister Terrific had bad art, and a story that negated nearly the - dare I say - terrific run Eric Wallace gave the title. Hawk & Dove didn’t know which way it was going, didn’t explain anything the canceled title left out, and also had terrible art. Blackhawks’ art wasn’t fantastic, it was just “meh,” and felt like a half-assed story that wasn’t pertinent to the rest of the DCnU. Deadman at least gave us something new in his journey: closure, and the art was great - if you’re a fan of McDaniel. Why did this Zero Issue decide to focus on only canceled titles? Beats me.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)