Comic Fodder

DC Comics Week 1/24/2007 - Part 2

Each week Comics Fodder will bring you reviews of a few titles from DC Comics. Not all titles will receive a mention. Should readers feel a certain title has been overlooked from DC Comics, DC's Vertigo or Wildstorm imprints, drop us a line and we'll take a quick peek.

Howdy, all. Feel free to visit yesterday's reviews for additional DC Comics reviewing excitement.

THE HELMET OF FATE: IBIS THE INVINCIBLE: Last week we had the pleasure of seeing Detective Chimp explore the powers of the Helmet of Fate. However, this limited series is actually a collection of one shots, all witnessing the journey of the Helmet of Fate before it winds up in the hands of Kent Nelson in the upcoming Doctor Fate series debuting in April.

This one-shot made the dicey decision to utilize the Helmet of Fate as a MacGuffin, while trying to reintroduce/ update a Golden Age sorcerer along the lines of Sargon, or perhaps even Zatara. Unfortunately, writer Tad Williams either assumes the reader will know all about Ibis the Invincible, or else doesn't care too much about the original Ibis as he spends no time in dispatching this decades old character to replace him with a smack-talking-teen, a la Peter Parker. Luckily, we've got the good folks at Wikipedia on our side to help fill in some of the blanks.

If DC were interested in using the Helmet of Fate one-shots in order to take a tour of the DCU world of magic, it's too bad they decided to stop by the comic equivalent of the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota in the second issue of this series. It's unclear why DC believed that Ibis needed an update when they hadn't really utilized Ibis in more than a decade.

Further, reintroducing Ibis as a boy who can magically transform into a superheroic man seems like an odd choice when the DC brass just kicked Billy Batson out of the Captain Marvel role.

There's some fun in this comic, but comedy is an artform, and a lot of what passes for humor here is more hit than miss. There is some real-world consideration taken into the comic, as our Billy Batson stand-in is of Egyptian descent and this is the source of some "Neverending Story"-style bullying in a post-9/11 world. Of course, the end of the comic goes ahead and runs with the "Neverending Story" theme and our Billy Batson sics his luck dragon/ ancient Egyptian god on his thugs. The 9/11 reference seems a bit weighty for this comic, other than to establish our nebbish as unjustly picked upon, especially given how light weight the "conflict" of the retrieval of the Helmet winds up.

Phil Winslade's work was excellent on The Monolith, and continues to impress in this issue, sometimes adding more gravitas to the proceedings that the story probably deserves.

Keep watching to see if DC actually had any plans for Ibis, or if this issue will disappear into the quarter-bins.

MYSTERY IN SPACE (WITH CAPTAIN COMET) #5 of 8: Of the One Year Later mini-series, this title has been a true surprise. Starlin manages to rein in his tendency to lean toward the mystically cosmic and, instead, focuses on the mystery at hand with the cosmic as merely a backdrop.

Starlin's version of space occasionally feels a bit pedestrian (which has always been at odds with his wish to produce space opera), but with the context of Hardcore Station and the mysteries abounding therein, it seems a fair trade-off in both the Captain Comet mystery and that of The Weird.

Shane Davis produces phenomenal work, bringing terrific detail and styling to the Captain Comet storyline, while Starlin seems to have stepped up the game a bit from his creator-owned Cosmic Guard series, perhaps in part due to the efforts of inker Al Milgrom.

It may be a bit late in the game, but as details of 52 continue to come to light (Lady Styx has appeared in the pages of Mystery in Space), Omega Men reintroduces the Darkstars and, generally, something very bad seems to be brewing space in the DCU, one can't help but feel that the mysteries are beginning here in pages of Mystery in Space, much as Infinite Crisis began in Adam Strange: Planet Heist.

Perhaps sticking to the detective novel format of a first person narrator, both series spend considerable time in the heads of the lead characters, occasionally at the expense of what would be some welcome dialogue. One can imagine, however, that The Weird and Captain Comet will have plenty to say when their two storylines inevitably intertwine in the next few issues.

ROBIN #158: It's probably not great when your guest star manages to completely upstages your titular character. Klarion the Witchboy could be a neat character in his own slightly askew title, but this issue of Robin mostly serves to remind the reader that Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers was a kind of weird genius we may never see again. Beechen certainly works hard to channel Morrison's vision for the Witch Boy, but his portrayal misses the mark in much the same way James Ney Reiber could never quite rechannel Gaiman's Tim Hunter in Books of Magic.

Nonetheless, it's good to see one of the Seven Soldiers not completely confined to the sidelines of the DCU, especially when Seven Soliders: Klarion artist Frazer Irving is back on artistic duties. Other artists may tackle Klarion in time, but it just won't be the same.

The story seems to keep true to the Klarion mythos Morrison established in the mini-series, winding trouble into the streets of Gotham as a wayward neighbor of Klarion's decides to try out his witchcraft in the world of "Blue Rafters". Teekl is somewhat threatened, and the whole thing requires the Boy Wonder to step in and seemingly save the world. Not a bad night's work. In exchange, Klarion provides some comfort to Robin in the wake of recent tragedy.

I cannot help but genuinely like Klarion as a character (or most of the rest of the Seven Soldiers), but I think these sorts of guest appearances might serve him best as a little goes such a long way.

Both the Zoanne romantic subplot and the Dodger subplot get a quick look during this issue.

Overall, the Robin title is a light, fun read. Perhaps not what fits the bill for most Bat-titles, but Beechen is making the most out of the comic without weighing Tim down with a lot of angst. It's not too hard to believe our Robin would have a lot on his mind, and it's dealt with well here, even giving much more of an eye to past storylines when DC's usual MO is past-storyline-amnesia.

So that's it for this week. I had planned to cover Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes, but I'm Supergirl'd out right now (It wasn't half-bad, and there were a number of surprising reveals).

Not a huge week, but some titles came in a little better than one might have expected. There are a lot of pots on DC's stove at the moment. As much fun as it was for readers to keep pace with the chain of events leading up to Infinite Crisis, something of equal importance seems to be simmering, but we won't know what it is for a while. Keep your eyes on the stars, as Berganza would say.

It would be nice if DC could put out a Superman comic on a regular basis.

Well, what did I get wrong? Questions? Comments? Come on, I can take it.