I didn’t know what I’d have to write about when I picked up DC Universe Presents #2. I wasn’t even sure I was going to get it. I thought the first issue was okay, but it didn’t wow me. In fact, I couldn’t imagine what the series as a whole would look like. Quantum Leap with super-heroes? Not a terrible concept, but not one I was excited about. But with DC Universe Presents #2, writer Paul Jenkins has taken a quick shift into the bizarre and unpredictable, and the book is stronger for it.
Picking up where last issue left off, Deadman’s confrontation with Rama goes exactly how you’d imagine it would… at first. But a well-placed quick three panel ending to their discussion suddenly puts Deadman’s whole mission into question. Setting up his newest charge for an enjoyable night out, he quickly abandons that mission to investigate his condition. Hitting up a club that caters to Gotham’s supernatural set, he throws the place into chaos trying to get answers – but the answers he gets are far from what he wants to hear.
The sequence in the club was exactly what the book needed, a bizarre show-case from Boston Brand’s unique abilities, sense of humor and hilariously bad luck that culminates in a creepy, startling revelation. If there weren’t so much meat to the story before, I’d almost prefer that this revelation have happened last issue: in many ways, it’s the hook for the whole series. But Jenkins has done a good job giving Brand a unique point-of-view and a fairly strong character so far, and Chang is doing fine work illustrating everything from the mundane dramas of Deadman’s day job to the bizarre, monstrous reality of his night life. DC Universe Presents #1 did a good job of introducing us to Boston Brand and the rules of his life; fittingly, DC Universe Presents #2 does its best to upend those rules.
One of the strongest ideas in Mike Carey’s Lucifer (and something that theologians have been discussing for a long, long time) is the purpose of Hell: is it to punish, or to redeem? Questions of redemption and damnation seems to be coming front and center to Jenkins’ DC Universe Presents story. Is Brand a damned soul already, futilely trying to save others in an endless quest doomed to fail, or is there a light at the end of the tunnel, a chance that he may one day get to move on to something better? This issue tips that scale towards the ‘damned’ direction, and I’ll be interested to see how Jenkins and Chang play this scenario out.
Despite a slow start, this was an enjoyably off the wall issue, a solid script improved by Chang’s excellent grasp of the material. I don’t know if DC Universe Presents #3 will follow through on the more interesting ideas presented here, or if the story will peter out into, as I said, Quantum Leap with superheroes, but either way, Jenkins and Chang have improved upon their first issue.