Comic Fodder

DC Comics Reviews: Week February 7, 2007

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.

A darn good week at DC. Lots of good work hit the shelves.

In fact, so excited were we, that we've already taken a look at Action Comics Annual #10, and the new Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil.

A note to readers: I do not work in a comic shop. I review what comes home with me on Wednesday (not all of it, but most of the DC books). If one is to take a look on the Information Superhighway, there's been a lot of continuuing discussion of the portrayal of Supergirl in Supergirl comics. I'd love to want to take part in that ongoing discussion, but here's the deal:

One of the goals of this review column is to keep track of how comics are doing and help you make a decision regarding what you're going to buy. A few weeks ago I took the Supergirl Comics and editor Eddie Berganza to task for the current state of the Supergirl comics. A blog like Comic Fodder most likely isn't even a blip on DC's radar, but as part of a chorus of blogs calling out the creators at DC... that's another thing.

It's yet another thing to buy a comic out of habit, or to buy a comic just so that you can complain about it. I've chosen to stop giving the Supergirl title my business until the change of creative teams takes effect. Sales will say more to DC than a million whiney reviews and tsk-tsk'ing columns. So, yes, there's a reason you haven't seen Supergirl comics reviewed in this column for the past several weeks.

52 Week 40

This issue rocked my socks off. Sure, the issue is mostly a slugfest peppered with exposition, but the pay-off after months (years?) of build-up was a special kind of vindication for 52 readers as well as longtime fans of Steel. Man-to-Man, mind-to-mind, in many ways John Henry Irons has been the man Luthor could have been since he first crawled from the wreckage of the Superman/Doomsday battle and built the Steel Armor to try to fill Superman's shoes and carry on the Neverending Battle.

Moreover, this issue seems to mark a turning point for DC Comics as they decide what kind of Universe the DCU is going to be. Two years ago, Luthor would have won this battle in a sneaky, underhanded manner, killed Steel, and gotten away with it. In fact, half-way through the issue, I was fairly certain this was the inevitable outcome. What does that say about the state of comics in a "realistic" and "grim 'n gritty" age? Instead, we're given a John Henry Irons who not only stands up to Luthor, but by working in tandem with his neice, who does right by the intellect that has ALWAYS been her gift (and this is going back well over a decade in DC Comics), wins the day. And there's got to be something right about that. Hopefully, this is a signal for change in the DCU. That said, for once it was nice to read a battle in which the end seemed genuinely in doubt.

I am John Henry, hear me roar!

Steel hasn't really received a fair shake since Mark Schultz's run on Superman: Man of Steel. There are a lot of gadgety guys in the DCU, and few of the writers in the Superman office aside from Schultz saw the potential for Steel as Superman's peer and equal. Unfortunately, the Steel series itself reflected too many of the bad habits of DC in the early 90's. Add in a movie starring Shaq, and it seemed best just to forget the guy. Morrison knew how to use him as the Reed Richards/ Tony Stark of the JLA, but, really, he's been put into cold storage more or less since about 2002.

I don't know what the remainder of 52 will bring for Steel, but there's a heck of an opportunity here to find a place for John Henry and Natasha Irons once again in the Superman Family Pantheon (but, please... find Natasha some better armor than the current model).


This title really hit it's stride with this two issue story-arc, and particularly with this issue. Writer Gail Simone's ability to mix the bizarre with the hilarious as Ryan Choi plays semi-active observer to the oddity of his own adventures is a welcome breath of fresh air in the DCU.

What's not to like, really? A scientist whose time-warping experiments have literally cut him in half? Cities 200 years in the future who have taken their superhero rivalry into a cause for war? The return of the Supermobile? A terrific twist ending?

This comic isn't going to be for the folks who equate "realism" in their comics with lots of people cursing and stabbing one another another, but for readers seeking a fun, completely unpredicatble title, The All-New Atom is just really getting going.


I did have an issue with this... issue. I don't buy the criminal's headgear is, in any way, practical. Yet they convinced me someone actually wears such a hat. I now refuse to look it up lest I discover people don't really wear dried fish on their heads. I want to live in a world where people wear fish. I don't think that's wrong.

Dini's very genuine detective story here in the pages of Detective manages to spin out a mystery that seems much larger than a single issue. The single issue story and resolution, mixed with elements from the rest of Dini's run, is working terrifically well for this series. (That might be something for the Bat-Editorial-Offices to consider as other writers come onboard after Dini departs.) The pacing is fantastic, and while some artists might enjoy a three-panel per page format and lots of splash pages, this reader prefers content on the page, especially in a detective tale where minutia means everything. As per that criteria, plus a Batman seemingly recovered from Infinite Crisis and OYL, and this reader is enjoying some of the best Bat-Comics in years.


This issue felt for all the world exactly like a Golden Age origin story. Rough and tumble, seedy crooks, more or less stumbling bass-ackward into nigh-cosmic power, righteous vengeance... Ham up the dialog a bit and stiffen the poses, and this comic could have been released in 1940. And that is a very welcome thing.

I was half-way through the issue when it occured to me "You know, this seems not entirely unlike what Steve Niles was trying to do in The Creeper, but that series seemed painfully stretched out over too many issues." And, of course,who wrote the comic but Steve "Stay Away From My Girlfriend" Niles. On the one hand, it's good to see what Niles may have been attempting to do on The Creeper. On the other, Steve may be locked into a certain formula for his origin stories (or superhero stories in general).

This, in theory, is a Helmet of Fate story, but the Helmet plays little more role in this issue than a smoke bomb in a typical Batman comic. That's all right. The issue itself far surpasses the Ibis the Invincible issue and tells a far more complete tale than the Detective Chimp issue. The mission of this series is to grant DC readers a nickel tour of the magical roots of the DCU and to re-imagine some old concepts for possible consideration for use elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is kind of how DC tends to get in trouble in the first place.

Five years from now Grant Morrison is going to awaken from a three-day magic mushroom trip in a sweat lodge atop a mesa in Arizona with a fully formed idea for the original Sargon the Sorcerer, and DC is going to realize the've already killed off the original in favor of his grandson. As Grant's idea will probably sell a lot of comics, DC will be forced to leave yet another scrapped version of a classic character on the mounting pile of failed re-boots.

I'm not exactly positive that one could actually do anything with this new Sargon. And as much as I can understand the desire to not return to the turban and tuxedo, I'm not sure looking like a Madonna back-up dancer is much of an option either. There was something cool about the vaudeville mystic look, and with the intentionally creepy posters used by mentalists and magicians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as inspiration, surely there was room for the new Sargon to adopt his Grandfather's look.

Eh. I'm being cranky.


The description posted at the DC site doesn't really do this issue much justice. Former Outsider (from the original series) Jefferson Pierce, aka: Black Lightning, believes he has killed a man, and as one of DC's stand-up guy kind of heroes, decides to turn himself in to Checkmate. Pierce had been President Luthor's Secretary of Education, and so perhaps had reasons for not wanting to just turn himself in at the police station. The who and why of his attack is not handled particularly well by Winick, but suffice it it to say, it's a bit of superhero bullying that goes awry.

Winick makes a play to take over Checkmate when Rucka is off the project by trying to ape some of the Checkmate outside the box thinking currently seen in the title, and comes up with good reasons why friends don't let superhero/ Presidential advisor types go to jail. But their solution is more or less ludicrous. And hardly seems like a permanent solution. Further, it more or less muddles some of the work going on with Black Lightning in JLA.

Lightning's daughter, Anissa (aka: Thunder), is so upset by the news she decides to (a) lay a smackeroo on Grace, and (b) break her father out of prison, which is the opposite of the little speech he just gave her a few pages earlier. I've not followed a lot of the Outsiders. But I do own more than a dozen issues, and I have almost zero feel for Anissa as a characters. Whether any of this makes sense for her, I have no idea. But my fear is that Winick is putting his character (whom he created, so he can do whatever he likes, I suppose) through paces to get from A-to-B, in much the same way that characters in soap operas tend to do things with the oddest of motivations rather than much of a motivation set in any kind of character reality.

The bits with Roy and his daughter (who isn't name-dropped once, and whose name I've chosen not to remember this week) are probably the strongest bit... But if we know Roy is going to run off with the Justice League in a bit, it would be nice to have a few reasons in place WHY the Oustiders are different, in Roy's mind, from the JLA.

It's good to see Outsiders filling in the blanks. It would be nice if it didn't feel like such a stretch to get from where the characters were at the end of Infinite Crisis to where they've been in a holding pattern since OYL.

Overall, a really good week. Especially after last week's headache inducing slate of instant dime-bin classics. No signs of an extra-terrestrial threat this week, so I may have to rethink all that. And no Dominators this week, either. Whatever was in the water at DC must have missed a few creative teams.

Again, 52 is winding up with hurricane force. The Action Comics Annual and Shazam mini-series seem to be ringing in a new era of respect for the past at DC, with an eye toward the future.

A good, fun week. And, as the kids like to say, a good time to be a fan of DC.

All right. What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Did you hate 52?
Questions? Comments? Come on, I can take it.