Pop Culture Corner: Top 5 Comic Books for June 2016

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By Nolan P. Smith

Staff Reporter

June brought a ton of exciting comics to stores everywhere. One of the biggest months in recent memory, June was jam packed with DC Comic’s Rebirth, which has been amazing. But there are some extremely high quality books that were also released in June from various publishers, including Valiant, Marvel and Dark Horse.

Here are my picks for the Top 5 comic books for June 2016.

Wonder Woman #1- DC Comics

As the Wonder Woman Rebirth Special laid the groundwork, this beginning to the new series starring Wonder Woman shows the Amazonian Princess trying to sort through her past to see what’s real and what isn’t, which leads her down a path to a very familiar face.

Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp deliver an outstanding debut issue here: not only do we get to see Wonder Woman delve into danger to find answers, but we see more of why she is one of the big three. Sharp’s Wonder Woman is elegant, yet powerful, just as the iconic heroine should be. Rucka’s script hits all the high notes, as we see where Steve Trevor fits into the whole picture. The jungle backdrop for Wonder Woman looks so lush, so amazing- this is a great way to kick off a new series.

Wonder Woman is clearly in great hands with Rucka and Sharp bringing the hero back to glory. With Rebirth, Wonder Woman is on a journey to find herself, whatever that may be, and for the readers, it can only be a great thing.

Green Arrow Rebirth #1- DC Comics

With DC Comics Rebirth, we get a slew of new and relaunched titles, which is actually a great thing, as many of these characters are being somewhat returned to days reminiscent of their glory days. For the emerald archer, this means returning to aspects long missing from the title thanks to the “New 52” era with Green Arrow Rebirth #1.

Written by Benjamin Percy with art by Otto Schmidt, this Rebirth special reintroduces us to Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow. Back is the corporate fat cat smashing, going against the grain and one percenters Green Arrow that fans have loved for years. Also back? The trademark goatee, thankfully. But the other main aspect that returns here is Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. This is a relationship that the New 52 eliminated, and after reading this issue, I am glad it is back.

This issue serves as the first “official” meeting of Green Arrow and Black Canary, setting the stage to what is bound to be an interesting, and often shaky road. The antagonists of the book is a cult bent on stealing the homeless and auctioning them off. Arrow and Canary work together to save a young boy, while learning more about each other in the process.

Percy’s portrayal of Green Arrow is spot on. Being a huge fan of the archer, I haven’t been this excited to read a Green Arrow book since the Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer runs. Schmidt’s artwork is clean, his designs are great, and I look forward to the artistic path he takes us down as Green Arrow marches forward. This was my favorite of the Rebirth specials released this week, and it has me totally on board for the ongoing series.

Divinity II #3- Valiant Entertainment

The first Divinity series by Valiant was simply amazing. Having Russian cosmonaut Abram Adams come back to Earth decades later and with the powers of a God was enough to put not only the Valiant Universe on notice, but the comic book industry as well. With Divinity II, we saw that another cosmonaut that traveled with Adams has returned as well, but Myshka is far more dedicated to the cause than Adams, leading to a titanic tussle.

With this issue, we get a visual feast as the two god like beings battle it out, tearing through time and space as they do so. I was blown away halfway through the book, as seeing Adams and Myshka, two people with similar powers, having two radically different outlooks on the world, battle it out. They literally battle through the pages of time, which is one of the most amazing sequential art sequences I have ever seen.

Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine have created a series that is flying under the radar in the midst of rebirths, reboots and wars. Even going toe to toe with Valiant’s 4001 A.D. event, Divinity II is shining brighter than most books on the shelves today. This series, like the one before it, is just such a breath of fresh air, with twist and turns abound. The artwork is something to behold on its own, and to be paired with Kindt’s amazing script, we get a third issue to one of the best series of 2016. If you are only picking up titles from the big two, then please, go pick up the first Divinity collection, and then get the first three issues of this second series. This is comic bookery at its finest (is that a word?).

The Flash #1- DC Comics

With the Rebirth special being outstanding, the Scarlett Speedster now runs into a brand new series, and if this issue is any indication, then The Flash is ready to win the race before it even began.

From writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, this issue focuses on a main plot that has circled him for years: is the Flash fast enough? Being the fastest man alive is one thing, but no one can be everywhere at once. This is the theme of the whole issue, all the way to the cliffhanger on the last page. We see Barry try to reconnect with Iris, with the young Wally West, all while trying to maintain his CSI duties. The issue felt kinetic, which is exactly how a Flash book should feel.

Williamson and Di Giandomenico are a great fit for the speedy hero: the scenes with the Flash literally pop off of the page. We are introduced to some of the supporting cast, and one that looks to play a massive role moving forward. The Flash was the central point of the whole Rebirth special (Barry and Wally), so it is only natural that his series fires on all cylinders. The Flash is winning the race of rebirth debuts, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Dept H #3- Dark Horse Comics

In the last issue of Dept H, we saw siblings Mia and Raj, as part for a three man team, going down into the depths of the sea only to be attacked by what appeared to be a giant squid. With Raj missing and Mia knocked out of the loop, the danger only gets greater with issue #3.

The Kindts, Matt and Sharlene, continue to craft one of the most intriguing books on the shelves today. With this issue, we get more glimpses into Mia’s past, as well as learn more about Dept H’s Lily, who falls under the category of suspect for the murder of Mia and Raj’s dad. We also see the introduction of an infection on board, one that drives an employee insane and asks more questions than we can hope to get answers to. But wait, on top of that, we see the appearance of a mysterious masked figure, which could be just a hallucination, or something far more important.

The artwork here continues to just knock it out of the proverbial ball park: there is nothing currently on the shelves that looks anything like this book: all the more reason to pick it up. The suspense and danger just got amped up to 11, and the futures of both Raj and Mia are in question by the time you reach the last panel. Dept H is that book I constantly recommended to casual comic fans who might gravitate towards the big two publishers only- this is a book you will not find anywhere else.

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