Comic Fodder

DC Comic Reviews: Week April 18, 2007 Part 1

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.



Okay, so I missed last week. I'll make up for that. Your erstwhile DC reviewer fell into a Venn Diagram of life-stuff, not the least of which was a new jobby job. This means I was super busy, and suddenly I realized that DC Comics Review: Week 11, 2007 had slipped away.

So, before I fail to post reviews of Week April 18, let's get cracking.



52 Week 50
and
World War III parts I-V

So, really, this issue wouldn't make a whole lot of sense without the four separate issues of World War III. And, effectively, this series just became 56.

Something about 52 has gone off the rails. Or, at least ,in trying to fulfill the promises of 52 as posed when the series launched, DC took the opportunity of WWIII to squeeze in all the character changes we saw in OYL, thus managing to remind readers of the failure of the initial promise of the series.

At this point, most of the air has been sucked out of the mystery attached to the loose ends of OYL, and several other changes simply don't seem to add up terribly well. (Ex: Manhunter quit her job, became a defense attorney and set up a new office with phones, etc... and scored Wonder Woman as a client in about a week and a half? That, readers, is efficiency.)

Readers may have also been a bit curious how Black Adam managed to take out the entire assembled might of every superhero from the US (It seems like Green Lantern or Firestorm alone should give hima run for his money). Or, in fact, why Black Adam went after any nation other than China after the revelations of the last issue.

Unfortunately, week 50 seemed to leave more questions than answers for readers. And the half-baked explanations for the "transformations" seen in OYL now almost seem like something which might have been better broached at some other point rather than shoe-horned in so late in the game. And with so much focus on Martian Manhunter, one wishes that the limited series hadn't been such a disappointment or that Meltzer had found a place for the new, mopier J'onn in the JLA.

With only two issues left in the series, it's a bit late to start turning on the series, but it's becoming increasingly clear what sort of trouble the writers had working all of the necessary elements into their seemingly massive timeline.

We'll do a full 52 Wrap-Up here in three or four weeks.




BIRDS OF PREY 105

The Birds continue their battle against the Secret Six, by... running away. Spy Smasher moves to take control of the team (an increasingly problematic story point), and there's some bit about the bloodline of Rasputin. As Gail's managed to do since coming on, the story manages to remain a good, fun read even when the stakes are raised in every issue.

Gail has managed to keep readers guessing since the issue 100 team re-boot, refusing to project where the story might be going, which is no small feat. And with Simone's split devotion to both Secret Six and the BoP, there's really no guarantee that we can even expect for things to shake out in favor of the guys with the white hats.

The addition of Hawkgirl seems a bit ill-conceived from an editorial standpoint. Clearly DC had big OYL plans for Kendra Saunders as they moved her from JSA to JLA and re-named the Hawkman book to reflect the editorial decision. But the addition to Birds of Prey of such a high-profile character seems a bit off, not to mention seems to suggest of over exposure of a character who is still mostly undefined in the DCU.

I also have a bone to pick with the portrayal of Barda in this series. Gail seems to have missed the boat on the "Barda Smash!" school of Big Barda characterization, right down to her hesitation at Manhunter's threatened attack. There's so much wrong here in Manhunter's bravado, and even more in the fact that for more than thirty years those are the sorts of opportunities readers have seen Barda leap at, usually shouting about being an Apokolyptian Warrior. Yes, Gail is saving the big fight for Barda and Knockout, but unless characters remain in character, it just doesn't seem like much fun.



BRAVE AND THE BOLD 3

The DCU sincerely needs this title. It's not that there aren't chances for characters to team up, or that popular characters don't make unnecessary guest appearances in the pages of less popular characters on a regular basis. The DCU needs this book to give superheroes an opportunity to mix and match and better explore the DCU, rather than merely going through the motions of the superhero mistaken brawl/ team up against a villain.

Waid's writing continues to be solid, and the storyline continues to be both entertaining as odd couple Batman and Blue Beetle interact on the Beetle's home turf (looks like Waid is doing his homework). While time travels stories give me a headache, I was curious to see the Fatal Five pop up as villains in this issue, because... dang it! that's just so much DC goodness crammed intoa single comic that it feels a bit as if Waid asked an eight year old to plot a comic and he somehow pulled the pieces together and made it work.

Also, George Perez's page layouts are very, very good. I just want to point this out for later...



THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE 11

It only took eleven issues, but this series is finally starting to go somewhere.

Sure, Professor Zoom seemed a bit easily taken out in order to move the plot along, but there's a lot of interesting things going on in this issue. Writer Guggenheim seems to have used the set-up provided to him by the prior writers in order to take Bart Allen in a new direction, indeed.

It does seem odd that Inertia, a character who this reader was previously unaware of prior to this series, is able to begin to pull together the Rogues. Even more so, he seems intent that the Rogues had never before teamed up, when that was sort of the point of the Geoff Johns run on The Flash, if memory serves.

Still, with Iris Allen revealing secrets from the future, Bart showing a bit of maturity by not jumping at the typical c-plot romance that litter comics as they try to find footing, an anti-Flash conspiracy led bya villain who knows Bart's identity... add in the inevitable twist of the conclusion...

Honestly, for the first time since the series began I'm interested to see what happens in the next issue for reasons other than morbid curiosity.

Flash may be on an upswing. This reader is predicting a huge change in the next four months for this title.



More to come tomorrow!

Questions? Comments? Come on, I can take it.


So would you recommend the 52 TPBs to someone who hasn't read any of it nor read any OYL stuff?

-- Posted by: Digital Boy at April 23, 2007 7:18 PM

Ask me again in a week. Right now I'm saying "yes". 52 acts fine as a stand alone story.

-- Posted by: ryan at April 24, 2007 1:09 AM