REVIEW: DC Universe Presents #19 (of 19)

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Or – “Say What You Will About WTF Month, But That Cover Is SERIOUSLY Goofy-Looking…”

When the New 52 kicked off, I was happy to hear that they had an anthology title in the mix, allowing us to see characters other than Superman, Batman and Catwoman once in a while.  Now, the grand experiment comes to an end and the cover promises a crossover between the present-day Justice League and Sword and Sorcery’s Beowulf.  What’s the deal with all that, you ask (assuming you’re Jerry Seinfeld?)  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

DCUniversePresents19CoverDC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #19
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Javier Pina
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in DC Universe Presents: There were a great many characters who didn’t make it into the first wave of titles from the New 52 who deserved some screen time.  Some worked well, some didn’t, but most all of them were at least trying something meant to be unique and/or different.  Now, as the book goes down for the third time…

…none of those characters are here.

THE COVER PROMISES ALL-OUT ACTION!

We open with a cute scientist in her lab, examining a strange doo-dad with unusual mystical powers, a device that she claims carbon dates as “negative 300 years old…”

Man, that’s kind of dumb.  While I’m not a scientist, I think I know enough to realize that this isn’t scientifically accurate, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth as we open our tale.  The device (known as a “Torc,” which I’m taking as a shout-out, because I can) suddenly flares up, and a horrible monster leaps out, followed by a cybernetic warrior with a sword!  Beowulf (from the backup story in early issues of ‘Sword of Sorcery’) rushes after the creature, only to find himself in the streets of New York City, and he is awed by the sight.  As for the creature, it can shape-shift into the forms of anything it sees through the power of vile sorcery, and when it sees a bus-poster with a picture of the Justice League, we get our crossover!

THE ART ISN’T JESUS SAIZ, BUT IT ISN’T BAD…

Or, to be more specific, our pseudo-crossover, as none of the actual Justice Leaguers appear in the issue, and Flash, who gets a cover-shot, is NOT one of the heroes into whom the Puca transforms itself.  Back in the 60s, it was always said that Mort Weisinger would commission Superman stories based on the weirdest or most shocking cover images that his staff could come up with, reverse-engineering plots to figure out why Jimmy Olsen was in drag or Lois Lane was a minotaur.  This issue seemingly sprung from that same wellspring, as the majority of the issue consists of dull chase and fighty-fighty, while the Puca becomes heroes.  At the end, amazingly enough, Beowulf gets returned to his own time, which resets things to the way they were at the beginning of the issue (save for an impetuous move by the scientist-woman), closing the Silver Age circle of life.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  FINAL ISSUE DOLDRUMS.

I haven’t found all the issues of D-CUP fascinating (although Black Lightning/Blue Devil had some, mostly untapped, potential) but this one was a step down from even the dullest moment of Challengers of the Unknown.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this story was written as another set of backups for Beowulf, but all in all, there is nothing here that makes me want to buy the issue, or makes it feel like a proper last ish, even for an anthology book.  DC Universe Presents #19 feels like a sad inventory story, and while the art is pretty well-done throughout the book, it’s never quite as solid or as inventive as the Jesus Saiz art from Beowulf’s first New 52 outing, leading to a book that’s both off-putting and unnecessary, earning a rather distressing 1.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Sometimes, it’s difficult not to fall into the expectation that DC editorial is flailing wildly around for a direction, with only the expectation that things be vicious and shocking as a touchstone…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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