War of Kings #3
As if this mini wasn't already kicking hindquarters, DnA actually up the action this issue, and this event continues to maintain Marvel cosmic's sizable lead in quality storytelling over any other corner of the Big 2's respective universes. This issue, some of the Shi'ar convince Vulcan to postpone Lilandra's execution, Crystal and Ronan have a heart-to-heart, Maximus continues to become more likable while his brother and sister-in-law go the opposite direction, the war continues throughout the universe, the Starjammers pull off a deft smash-and-grab rescue of Lilandra from the clutches of the Imperial Guard (with the aid of half the Guardians of the Galaxy, and as usual, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax absolutely steal the show), and Gladiator shows his true colors as we say a swift goodbye to a cast member.
DnA continue to masterfully mix big event action with quick yet insightful character bits, each character gets a different voice (take notes, Bendis!), and the plot moves along briskly but fluidly as we careen from place to place. And enough can't be said about Pelletier's art...from alien humanoid races to upright raccoons to battered warriors to savage deaths to space fleets to little stuffed Ben Grimm dolls, he absolutely knocks this book out of the park. It's not quite up to Annihilation levels of greatness YET, but that doesn't mean this isn't a pretty-much perfect summer event; I LOVED it.
Flash Rebirth #2
Now THIS is a little more like it, Johns. A much better, more focused issue than this series' opener gives me much more hope that this mini will impress me yet. We start by looking in on the gorillas in Gorilla City, then rapidly move to Lady Flash's discovery of Savitar's death, then move to Barry standing over the corpse, working the crime scene. We get the standard cameos, a brief flashback to Barry's first meeting with Iris and his origin scene, and then a return to the present as we learn that Wonder Woman has used her connections to tell the world that Barry's been in witness protection during his absence (a very simple, even elegant explanation for what I thought would be a bigger problem...I like it). We end with Barry and Wally running out to find the Black Flash's corpse in Fallville, and a fight between them and Lady Flash, which ends with Barry becoming the new Black Flash.
I liked the cliffhanger, I liked the witness protection explanation, I liked the fact that Johns spent 95% of the time here on the plot rather than his usual "everybody talks about how great ________ is". And the art by Van Sciver was, as usual, spectacular. My one complaint remains that such a large chunk of this revolves around the needless and so-contradictory-of-ALL-Flash-history retcon that Barry's mom died when he was a kid (now compounded by the addition that his dad died in jail before he ever became the Flash), that it's distracting me from the book, and lessening my enjoyment of something I really want to like. I need Johns to hurry up (speed in a Flash book, I know that's a novel concept) and show me that he knows this is wrong and that this is somehow going to be explained and FIXED by the time this mini is over. Otherwise...I'm going to remain disappointed by this book. Despite that quibble though, on the whole I liked it.