Thursday, June 20, 2013

DC Universe Presents #0

So once upon a time, DC launched the New 52 with a couple of fringe, experimental titles that probably had a 5% percent chance of being successful. These titles included Mr. Terrific, O.M.A.C., Hawk and Dove, and Blackhawks. To nobody's surprise, all these titles were canceled by the time DC hit the one-year mark of the New 52 and wanted to tell origin stories in their Zero issues. To make it up to these canceled titles, DC gave them all a brief origin in DC Universe Presents #0.

Now DC Universe Presents was supposed to be DC's testing ground. It would feature a bunch of different characters in one- to five-issue stories in hopes of finding somebody popular enough to earn their own title. That never happened. Deadman was given the first five issues, then Challengers of the Unknown got three, three more for Vandal Savage, one for Kid Flash (where he fights dinosaur teenagers), four for Black Lightning and Blue Devil, one for Arsenal, one for Starfire, and one for Beowolf (that also featured the Flash ... sort of). And then DC decided to cancel DC Universe Presents. I think the main idea behind it was a good one, but it was poorly executed. First of all, the book had an unwieldy title. I think it should have been called something more simple like DC Showcase. Secondly, most of the characters it chose had an extremely low chance to succeed. These were virtual unknowns in the DC Universe and could only make it on their own with the absolutely best writing and art in the world. But the best creator usually get to work with the best characters. I'm sad DC's experiment failed, but I guess they should get credit for trying.

Anyway, I missed this issue when it first came out because the Flash's appearance in it is so brief. He appears on one panel in the Blackhawks story during the Darkseid fight. Since you can't buy only that Blackhawks story, I will briefly review all five stories in this issue. Oh, and the cover? I don't know who did it and frankly, I don't care. It's the standard Zero Issue cover, but it's missing Deadman, which sucks for him because he started the DC Universe Presents title. So now, on to the review (I'll try to get through this as quickly as possible).

"Origins Matter After Cancellation"

Story and Art by "Unstoppable" Keith Giffen and "Immovable" Dan DiDio
Inks by "Uncontrollable" Scott Koblish
Colors by "Unsaturated" Hi-Fi
Letters by "Infallible" Travis Lanham
Edits by "Irredeemable" Harvey Richards
O.M.A.C. created by Jack "The King" Kirby

In Metropolis, two years ago, Mokkari at Cadmus is developing a virus to create an unstoppable killing machine, but he needs to find the right host, which he predicts to have a one-in-a-million shot at. Cadmus is being funded by Maxwell Lord and Checkmate, who is using the satellite Brother Eye to spy on Cadmus. We find out that Brother Eye was created by Batman with Mother Box technology to keep tabs on all the super humans on Earth, but Brother Eye became sentient and grew too powerful. So Maxwell Lord decided to destroy the satellite and steal all the information it had acquired. But before he could do this, Brother Eye took control of the O.M.A.C. virus, disguised it as an ordinary flu shot, and gave it to Kevin Kho, who became the One-Machine Attack Construct.

"Mister Terrific"

James Robinson, Writer
Tom Derenick, Artist
Mike Atiyeh, Colorist
Dave Sharpe, Letterer
Kate Stewart, Assistant Editor
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Michael Holt, one of the smartest men on the planet, has decided to become a superhero named Mr. Terrific. He has created a special T-mask and T-spheres to make himself more powerful. In his studies, he came across the "Ninth Dimension" and decided to enter a portal to visit it. On his way, he sees images of his past, such as the death of his wife and son. He then sees images of his future — he joins the Earth 2 Flash and Green Lantern, fights Power Girl, and is killed by a man in a suit. The portal suddenly forces him out and he can't remember anything he saw, but vows to return as soon as he can.

"Balance of Power"

Writer – Rob Liefeld
Artist – Marat Mychaels
Colorist – Matt Yackey
Letterer – Dezi Sienty
Assistant Editor – Rickey Purdin
Editor – Rachel Gluckstern

Deep in the cosmos, the god of chaos, War, and the goddess of order, Peace, argue about their respective avatars, Hawk and Dove. We learn that Dove was originally Don Hall, but he was killed, so his girlfriend, Dawn Granger, became the new Dove. War and Peace bicker and argue about ... well, nothing really. And then the story ends.

"Mother Machine"

Tony Bedard Writer
Carlos Rodriguez Penciller
Bit Inker
Guy Major Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
Chris Conroy Editor

At the battle of Metropolis five years ago, the Flash(!) and the rest of the Justice League fight Darkseid.  Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are searching for one of their teammates who was kidnapped by parademons. They find her, but they were too late — she has already been turned into some kind of evil robot. The Blackhawks free her from Darkseid's control, but she runs away from them and becomes her own villain named Mother Machine.

"Instant Karma"

Tony Bedard Writer
Scott McDaniel Artist
Guy Major Colorist
Dave Sharpe Letterer
Harvey Richards Editor
Deadman created by Arnold Drake

Boston Brand was a circus daredevil until he was shot and killed. He apparently was some kind of a jerk, because the goddess Rama Kushna decreed that he needed to serve penance as the super-powered Deadman, with the ability to possess other people's bodies. The first body he possessed was that of the man who murdered him. Basically, Deadman screwed up and accidentally caused the death of an innocent old lady. But he did make sure the murderer went to jail. Later, Deadman decided to follow Rama Kushna's advice and use his powers for good.

The Good:

Nothing. There is nothing redeemable about this issue. Avoid it at all costs. I apologize for making you suffer through this review.

The Bad:

No Flash. Yes, he does appear in one panel, but it's not a particularly exciting or original panel. If you want to see Flash fight Darkseid, go pick up Justice League #1 through #6. It's much better that way.

Uninspiring art. Everything just seemed sloppy and rushed. Maybe this was a last-minute decision by DC, but that doesn't excuse the poor quality of this book. There was not a single page that I enjoyed, and ultimately I felt like this issue was a complete waste of $2 (for the digital version).

Bad writing. Maybe part of this complaint has to do with the shortness of the stories. Nobody really had enough room to do anything with. The Deadman story had the most potential, but it felt rushed, almost like Tony Bedard had to hastily cram his story into a smaller page count. On the other hand, it felt like Rob Liefeld had absolutely no story for Hawk and Dove and just kind of stalled to fill up the pages. I was also unimpressed with the "Immovable" Dan DiDio. I've never read any of his stories, but when somebody is co-publisher of DC, I'd expect them to be one of the top creators around. Jim Lee is one of the best artists of his generation, but what great story had DiDio written?

Mother Machine. I'm going to pick on her because this was the story the Flash "appeared" in. Mother Machine makes no sense! If you read the first six issues of Justice League, you'll see that the parademons were kidnapping humans to turn them into more parademons. So why was this random lady chosen to become this ultimate robot of death? Also, this random lady has no name! I re-read this story half a dozen times, and went searching on the Internet and could find nothing! How am I supposed to build a personal connection with somebody that doesn't even have a name?

What was the point? I kept asking myself this over and over during this issue. I know that DC brazenly stated that "Origins Matter After Cancellation," and all these stories ended with some version of a To Be Continued, but seriously, what was the point of giving us the origins of cancelled titles? Let's pretend that I was a huge Hawk and Dove fan and I eagerly picked up this issue back when it was on the shelves, and even loved the whole Peace vs. War debate. What do I do after this issue? Pick up the back issues and hope and pray for Hawk and Dove to return somehow? Or what if I really loved this Mother Machine character? When and where would I see her again? Honestly, I don't think there were any fans who fit into those categories, nor were there any new readers who were enticed by the cover alone and bought this. The only people who bought this issue were OCD collectors like me who bought it more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. And that is why this book has failed.

Final score: 0 out of 10

Next time: Do you remember the time Flash teamed up with Batman to take down Bane? I kinda missed it, so now I'm going back to review Batman: The Dark Knight #3.

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