Comic Fodder

DC Comic Reviews: Week February 28, 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.



Howdy! Lots and lots of comics this week. Too many, some might say. DC appears to have put some sort of process in place to get comics out on time once again, God bless 'em. I'm seeing things like "lay outs" listed in credits for comics and titles showing up as promised. Apparently somebody in charge of money at DC pointed out that selling comics on a regular basis was more profitable than selling comics upon occasion. I think we have 52 selling 100,000 copies each week to prove that particular bit to Didio.

As always, we have hits and misses. So what worked and what didn't?



52 Week 43

The cover should tell readers that Animal Man's death several weeks ago is turning out to be one of those comic-book temporary deaths. But for folks who've read Morrison's Animal Man there's continuity here. Buddy's powers may or may not have expanded, but the scope and usefulness of Buddy's abilities just became apparent (why Animal Man in space, we all asked? Oh.). And a character we thought was gone with the wind pops out and surprises us all.

However, the main thrust of the issue deals with Osiris, The Black Marvel Family and the Marvels. Seeking an answer as to his own culpability in the misfortunes seemingly magically befalling Kahndaq, Osiris tries to find an answer with his crocodile pal, Sobek. I've not followed "The Trials of Shazam", but it's probably safe to assume that all goes apace with continuity regarding what's seen there and what's seen here.

Osiris has quickly become a sympathetic and interesting character in his spotty appearances throughout 52, and the writing team has handled both he and Sobek very well as supporting characters. The fall-out from this issue should be interesting to watch, especially with something entitled World War 3 approaching in the coming weeks.




ACTION COMICS #846

Darn you, Geoff Johns.

This is a good issue. I do not know why it took the creative team so long for this issue to find it's way into my greedy little mitts, and I want to be angry with you, but I can't. You're delivering a compelling story, even if it's a tweaked retelling of a story I saw on the big screen while still in kindergarten, but for the first time in who-knows-how-long, Superman comics are down to the brass tacks of existing as a Superman comic, but with the sensibilities of the big-screen treatment of the modern industry.

Adam Kubert's rendering is interesting, if not exceptional, but the man knows how to frame a sequence and interpret action across a panel and page. Particularly the two page, 8 frame sequence from signs of danger in The Planet offices to the appearance of the "S" shield. From Jimmy's watch to the "crane in" on Clark, there's a lot going on here, and the execution is deceptively simple, but it's the kind of framing a Superman story really needs to rise above standard comic action and reach the iconic status Superfans seek.

The dialog is sharp, picking up on the quick banter of the Daily Planet scenes from the Donner Superman films, and more than occasionally referencing material from those movies elsewhere, including the Fortress of Solitude. The threat of the Kryptonian Criminals is given extra layering and greater explanation here than in the film versions, and a bit more about the world on the other side of the Phantom Zone is gleaned. And Johns knows how to write a cliffhanger, I'll give him that.

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...and one day, your heirs!!!

One complaint: Yet another interpretation of Jor-El? This is version 3 or 4 since COIE, and this re-design isn't particularly impressive. I have my suspicions that the bearded Jor-El is Adam Kubert's tribute to his own bearded Dad (I'm going off of ads I've seen for the Kubert school), and editor Idelson is simply too busy to care much what former editor Berganza had going post-Birthright. Consequently, what's happening with Supergirl and Superman doesn't really mesh, which, ultimately, may lead to additional confusion.

One origin story, DC. You can do it.

The post OYL Superman has been just really good stuff. It's unfortunate that the Kubert's have been such a colossal disappointment from a scheduling standpoint (Batman is also way, way off schedule). Readers will now have to wait through a few more months of fill-in's and what-not before getting back to the action at hand.



FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #9

Let us have a moment of reflection for poor Marc Guggenheim. Replacing supposedly "big gun" TV writers who botched a re-boot of DC's yard marker for long-standing-favorite-characters, and with eight whole issues of continuity mess to clean up... Our man Guggenheim manages to put on his waders and walk right into the mess the previous tenants left behind.

This is not a good comic. But it's also nowhere near as bad as the previous eight issues of the series. you can't necessarily blame the writing, but you also can't say that Guggenheim does much more than begin the clean-up process, when DC's stable of A-listers would probably have torn down the house and had a palatial new pad in place by the end of 22 pages.

Some mention is made of the abso-ludicrousness of Bart's age dilemma, stemming from Infinite Crisis and then the Bilson and DeMeo run, and it's, rightfully, the impetus for the loss of Generic Girlfriend #1, who seemed to be but a failed cloning attempt of the Amanda Pays character from the Flash series of the early 90's. Worse yet, we finally get the secret identity lecture we've all been dreading might come since Identity Crisis:

So now Sue's dead. She was murdered and that was after some other villain raped her. I don't want that to be you. Can you get that?

Wow. Really eloquent, Mr. Guggenheim.

Unfortunately Bart is still in LA, which seemed to have stemmed more out of the LA-dwelling Bilson and DeMeo's interest in seeing the Scarlet Speedster zipping down the 101 more than any logical change. In addition, Bart is still stuck as a police cadet, supposedly in honor of Barry Allen. I appreciate the sentiment, but the notion that Bart could pull the dual identity shtick as an LA cop and not disappear into his role as The Flash at the first sign of trouble is so fraught with complications that it's sort of amazing that one ever got past the editors. The premise sort of promises to turn Flash into "More Flash Funnies" as Bart has to find wacky ways to convince his partner he's not sneaking off to become The Flash.

Straight jobs, in general, are bad ideas for superheroes.

There's a prolonged battle with Steppenwolf of Apokolips as he retrieves a cosmic volleyball. Bart ponders his desire to skip ahead of the Teen Titans and join the JLA, and he gets really wowed by Red Arrow.

I'll check this book out next month to see where Guggenheim is going, but The Flash is heading dangerously close to the chopping block.



JUSTICE #10

Another gorgeously illustrated issue, and this one featuring some terrific action.

I don't feel comfortable reviewing Justice as a single issue story as I long ago decided that the series, while enjoyable as single issues, was probably always really meant to be read as one colossal volume. And, yes, I am hoping for the Absolute treatment for this series.

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I feel bad about the non-review. Here's a lovely picture.



FIRESTORM #33

Best. Firestorm. Ever.

Oh, Dwayne McDuffie. Why did you wait until this book was already set for execution to join up and then write a really good issue? Not only have you made me comfortable with Shilo Norman as Mister Miracle (It's still weird to me to have two Mr. Miracle's in the DCU), but you also wrote the sniveling, perpetually baffled Jason Rusch right out of the comic, just as he was starting to take over again.

McDuffie has a serious ear for dialog, possibly honed in his years working for TV. He's obviously gto a handle on the complexity of the Firestorm dual-personality idea, and as he treats it as such, it's a lot easier for the reader to buy. He is not okay with the sexualized 7 year-old "girlfriend" provided to Jason Rusch in Gehenna. Whether the series can last long enough to resolve this problem (that's statutory where I come from), I don't know. But any writer who goes ahead and takes up page space pondering the works of Uwe Boll is okay in my book.

I'm a sucker for New Gods stuff. Unlike the artists and writers of Flash, McDuffie, Jurgens and Lashley know how to handle things when Orion shows up at your door. And the Female Furies.

I'm looking forward to the next few issues, which is more than I can say about Firestorm than I've felt since about three months into OYL. This evening I plan to write a letter to DC Comics, something I rarely, rarely do, and ask that (a) McDuffie be given more work, and (b) point out that he could save this title.



GREEN LANTERN #17

Geoff Johns sort-of wraps up the 'Wanted: Hal Jordan" story-arc. Again, the bulk of the action of the issue feels as if it takes place within fifteen minutes of Green Lantern's day. That's not to say Johns doesn't tell a fairly good story, but it also means we get a monologuing villain to fill in for some needed exposition, then some action and then some resolution.

It's true that this story filled in a few details I've pondered since I read Emerald Dawn, lo, those many years ago. It also serves as a springboard for one of Johns' other Big Ideas (tm) in introducing a bit more about the Sinestro Corps. And we FINALLY get the return of John Stewart.

Johns pays attention to some details, filling in what happened with Amon Sur between the end of the Kyle Rayner GL run and this storyline. It's a sign of greater continuity policing in the new DCU, and it's something this reader can appreciate. Johns managed to tell his story, and he managed to do while filling in the gaps with a bit of dialog.

The art by Ivan Reis continues to impress. His big-screen sensibilities are well suited to John's summer-blockbuster mentality.

I'm enjoying this book in much the way I enjoyed a lot of titles as a kid. Lots of action, a semi-cocky hero, and colorful bad guys. Not a lot of depth to this book, but it's always a fun read.



BLUE BEETLE #12

Somebody has informed writer John Rogers that the Blue Beetle title was not going to survive on novelty and charm. Rogers moves the comic forward with the beginning stages of the grand reveal of what, exactly, the Beetle Scarab actually does for a living, and who it's working for.

Unfortunately, too much of this issue is bogged down with a lengthy and unnecessary battle between Blue Beetle and Peacemaker versus the ED-209 alien-tech.

I'm sincerely grateful for the explanation, which probably would have been good about five issues ago, but this book is suffering from de-com-pres-sion in a serious way. As I like to say, a lot of things occur, but not enough happens. Not with 14 pages of search-to-destroy of a non-entity. There are better ways to handle the grand reveal.

I still like Albuquerque's style. It wouldn't work for older characters, necessarily, but with the youthful tone of Blue Beetle, it seems like a good fit.



BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #3

This series finally feels as if it's going somewhere.

I don't know how I feel about Lex Luthor as a villain for both Batman and Superman, but I also haven't seen it yet in a book where I thought it didn't work. After all, Lex is the anti-Batman, if there is such a thing. (editor's note: I know they pitch Mr. Terrific as "The Third Smartest Man Alive". I assume the first two are Batman and Lex.) In this issue we Diggle finally pulls the plotlines taught so that the story begins to come together in a meaningful manner. This isn't a detective story, per se, but it's an interesting story.

I am not as crazy about the work of While Portacio and Richard Friend (I suspect a pseudonym) on inks. The art is murky and Friend's inks seem added on with a bit too much zeal. Not bad... just, not my favorite work.



JSA CLASSIFIED #23

The vote for surprise of the week goes to this Dr. Mid-Nite story with my least favorite sci-fi fantasy topic, vampirism.

Doctor Mid-Nite is a character that simply works in much the same way Batman works. Sure, he has the "night vision" power, but we all know that the real deal behind Mid-Nite is the hyper-analytical doctor's mind that doesn't detect at a crime scene as much as it diagnoses. It's almost as if the man can't help himself, and speak to anyone who will listen as if they were colleagues and could actually follow what he's saying.

I can only imagine the "Big Book of Medicine" writers keep on their desk while putting together a Mid-Nite script.

I got vampired out in the late 90's as the Anne Rice bit had trickled down to popular culture and spawned role-playing games which had been optioned into Fox TV shows. Now, I seriosuly get a case of the giggles when I see Anita Blake comics. Oh, mercy. That's just good stuff.

If the Anita Blake comics are any indication, there simply hasn't been enough original material showing up on the vampire scene in well over a decade, and I'm not sure that this comic is any exception. Instead, I recommend picking it up just to take a look at Doctor Mid-Nite as a bit of an eccentric character, and to check out the art of Alex Sanchez (I am utterly unfamiliar with this guy's work). It's creepy and cool, and I dig his take on Mid-Nite's cowl.

Oh, and ignore the cover. That's not Alex Sanchez. I think it's Pat Lee.



SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #27

Well, there's a huge Dominator clutching a blood-red Earth on Page 1, muttering "Remember 52." I guess that's as much of a tie-in as Legion is faced with when there's a 1000 year gap in history.

Dominators continue to muck with the Earth, the Wanderers continue to demonstrate poor team-building skills and a Sky-Net-like virus invades every device on Earth. Wait... didn't they do that in Battlestar Galactica, too? I've never seen the show, but it seems I heard...

Anyway, it's all very exciting stuff. Lots of action. Unfortunately, it's a lot of hand waving, and this issue feels a bit like a lot happens, but not a lot occurs. The danger of covering so many team-members in an epic battle, I suppose.

There's a phenomenal back-up feature that's a celebration of Dave Cockrum's work on Legion of Superheroes, plus some short tributes from folks who worked with him. Incredibly moving.

Lately I've been watching Superman and the Legion of Superheroes off my DVR. The show is intentionally a bit goofy and kid-friendly, but it's also a lot of fun.

I was not a Legion of Superheroes fan growing up. My earliest purchase of a Legion comic was part of Legion Lost. Previously, I had avoided the comic like the plague as I just didn't find the idea as appealing as Teen Titans or New Mutants, or something recognizably Earth-Bound. I'm still not entirely sold on the idea, and am close to dropping the series despite fairly decent writing and lovely art from Kitson.

I'm at issue #27, and I don't feel as if I know any of the characters. That isn't good. I can't say the book has been particularly plot-heavy, either, a la Geoff Johns. Instead, I think Waid knows these characters so well that he neglects to spend time catching up the rest of us. To be honest, if any of the Legion dies in the next issue, I wouldn't bat an eye. I understand that legion may be the cultiest of cult books, and because I wanted to give this series it's due, I've tried it under two different banners for more than two years. But Waid needs to bring more to the table, either by providing back-up features which tell me who the heck these kids are, or by seriously, seriously reducing the rush to action that seems to overwhelm every issue.

The Legion cartoon on Saturday mornings seems a bit more contained, and seems to do a better job of providing characters with their own, unique voice. Perhaps the smaller cast, or the longer format helps. But I think it's that the writers don't assume I don't need to know anything about Star Boy because, gee, doesn't everybody know all about Star Boy?

This comic could be better. Unfortunately, as much as I prefer Kara Zor-El in this series to Kara in her own title, it's a huge distraction, what with no explanation of her presence.




That's it for the week. A bit of New God's stuff, a bit of Dominators. A 52 reference. A very, very interesting Superman story going on.

All in all, not a bad haul.

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A reminder of a good comic you should have picked up.



So, what did you think? How was the week? Anything you loved? Hated? Did I say something dumb?
Questions? Comments? Come on, I can take it.


See, Gehenna is exactly why I dropped Firestorm, and even a writer change wasn't enough to get my attention back. If McDuffie is actually going to address this mess as something that is very wrong, though, I'd like to see that. I think he's skilled enough to deal with it, but he only has 3 issues, doesn't he?

-- Posted by: Ragnell at March 2, 2007 5:02 AM

This is sort of awkward to admit, but I kept thinking "they're going to fix this... they don't actually mean she's seven." And then she was in the supporting cast OYL, and nobody had used OYL to correct the ick-factor of the set-up. I have NO IDEA what the editors are thinking.

McDuffie made a few comments about it through the text, and I think that's all he can do at the moment. But I was glad to see it mentioned.

Yes, there's only 3 issues of McDuffie, according to my math. I don't think that's even enough time to see if numbers can track back up on the book.

At least McDuffie is working some at DC, and that's not a bad thing.

-- Posted by: ryan at March 2, 2007 11:41 AM