DC Universe Presents #13 Cover Ryan Sook Blue Devil Black LightningTwo more DC heroes make their New 52 debuts here, Blue Devil and the sorely missed Black Lightning.  The pair are both new heroes here and both happen to stumble upon the same drug deal.  But after they take down the drug dealers, they stereotypically battle each other, with Blue Devil attempting to reason with the suspicious Black Lightning.

Later, we learn some things about these characters real lives.  As it was before, Black Lightning is Jefferson Pierce, a school teacher, but instead of teaching in Metropolis, he lives in LA, where his father is a daring investigative reporter, trying to unmask the gangster Tobias Whale.    Dan Cassidy, Blue Devil, is just a guy in a powerful suit, the way he was when he first appeared.  His grandfather is a studio owner and Hollywood jack of all trades.  There’s no indication as to Dan’s job, but in the old continuity, he was an actor and stunt man.

Meanwhile, Tobias Whale declares war on the heroes who are messing up his criminal empire, which leads to tragedy when one of the heroes goes back into action as well as possible tragedy for the other.

This issue was okay, but inconsistent.  The organized crime plot is a bit of a snooze.  I’m so tired of gangsters in comics.  I can’t even tell you how many comics I’ve read just this year that use similar tough guys.  Blue Devil is a fun character, so he was like-able.  Black Lightning is sort of inexplicably a hard-ass and overly serious.  There’s no reason for him to attack Blue Devil in the beginning other than to set up the overly used “two heroes meet and due to a misunderstanding end up fighting one another” scenario.

These are two characters that I’m not even sure knew one another in the old continuity, so the decision to pair them was seemingly made due to the colors in their name.  Black Lightning was DC’s first major black super hero and I’ve always wanted better for him.  The original reason for excluding him from the Justice League– he chose not to join so he could focus on more street level crime– was always crap, in  my opinion, because it never stopped Batman, Black Canary or Green Arrow from participating in JLA adventures.  In the past few years, his profile was starting to rise, but shortly after ‘Infinite Crisis’ he kind of fell by the wayside again.

Blue Devil is a character that was majorly revised at one point.  He went from being a guy in a super suit to an actual Blue Devil with magical powers.  But I think it was a transformation that worked, as most people accepted it and he was in this form longer than he had been in the one prior.  Now it seems we’re back to the start.  It’s too early to say if the change will work, though, but so far he’s a fun character.

Also evident is that they are going to make them opposite “buddy cops” with Blue Devil as the goofball and Black Lightning as the hard-ass.  It’s not exactly a novel concept, but we haven’t seen them together enough yet to really make a judgement.  One thing i did like is that they obviously had close connections to their older male family members.  I liked that Jefferson and his dad and Dan and his grandfather seemed to have nice dynamics.

The art is, for the most part, very nice with a lot of intricate detail.  The action scene at the beginning had some flow issues.  I feel like maybe the addition of two panels would have helped things feel more seamless.  And there are a couple of times when proportions get a little bit awkward.  But then again, there are a couple of panels where I just went “Wow,” like when Blue Devil does a flip to stop a car full of gangsters.  That panel looked amazing!

Another weakness for me were the costume designs.  Almost the entire front of Blue Devil’s chest is cut out with his skin exposed.  Uhhhh… why?  And he’s got about a million links of chain hanging off him.  But on the other hand, I love the design of his head.  The horns look great and I like how his hair looks like tribal tattoos.  Black Lightning’s costume looks just like Nightwing’s.  Period.  Maybe it’s Nightwing’s old one that he pitched when he switched to the red look he’s sporting now.

So, honesly, I don’t know that I liked this issue to even want to give the next one a shot.  I really think Black Lightning deserves more exposure and a heightened presence in th DC Universe, but this issue, throwing him against human gangsters, just doesn’t have enough weight.  The art was very good, but the story was nothing I haven’t seen a million times.

 

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #13
Written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Robson Rocha
Cover by Ryan Sook