Comic Fodder

DC Comic Reviews: Week April 25, 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.

Please join me in welcoming our new columnist to Comic Fodder. Bill just joined up and will be handling a number of topics. Currently, Bill is handling Dark Horse comics, and has started off with a great overview of the Star Wars comics currently under license at Dark Horse.

I'm very excited to have him on board, and I hope you'll enjoy his work. I know I've enjoyed what I've read.

We're still looking for writers, so if you'd like to give it a shot, please check out our post regarding what we're looking for, and we can chat.

So this week I ended up buying a lot of comics. Not as many as when they throw four issues of Word War III at me, but DC managed to get a lot of stuff out here before the end of April. And, of course, the much discussed problems with Wonder Woman continue, with a double-shot of mediocrity and continuity damage with Amazons Attack.

Let's get to it.


Thanks to the scheduling of “Amazons Attack!”, it seems I have been roped into picking up Wonder Woman again as quickly as I dropped the series. Oh, well.

However, if you were to pick up this issue, issue #8 may be the best issue thus far of the current volume of Wonder Woman. True, that may be damning with faint praise, but with a storyline to work towards, Picoult picks up the pace and seems to be able to better get a grip on how to handle the characters.

The story follows events of last issue wherein Wonder Woman was captured by the Department of Metahuman Affairs and put in a power-draining cylinder of some sort until she would agree to hand over plans to the “Purple Death Ray” to the US government. The Purple Death Ray was seen only once in Infinite Crisis and related issues of Wonder Woman, and only for a handful of panels, if memory serves, during a chaotic attack upon Themyscira by a swarm of OMACs. It’s not impossible for the US Government to know about the PDR, as they were parked reasonably close to Themyscira in a fleet of battleships during the conflict, but it’s also likely that the US Government would also know of the presence of Io, the Amazonian armorer with a mystical gift for forging weapons. I suppose Sarge Steel and Co. are assuming that the Themyscirans had kept the PDR under cover and every Amazon had intimate details of the design. Okay.

The big matzah ball of the issue arrives in the re-birth of Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta, last seen sort of floating like a spectre of good will over the island after taking out an Imperiex drone in “Our Worlds at War”. Few readers probably actually picked up the issue, but if I can take off my critical reader hat for a moment, the death of Hippolyta was one of the best portrayed death scenes which I can recall in any comic. So, yes, they had better step it up with this series if they want to write over some of the most heartfelt pages I recall reading in any comic. And it’s safe to say that the loss of Hippolyta resonated throughout the series until its conclusion with Infinite Crisis.

Hippolyta is resurrected by, of course, Circe. And we have to assume that Hippolyta is (a) not Hippolyta but some shade resembling Hippolyta, (b) under a spell by Circe, or (c) as dumb as a bag of rocks for listening to a word Circe says after the woman plagued her daughter for years in the last (and still in continuity) run of Wonder Woman.

The Amazons are somewhere in the netherverse after retreating “forever” during Infinite Crisis, and, apparently in that time forgot that the big change which occurred on Themyscira at the end of the Jimenez run was that Themyscira became a democracy. A democracy full of super smart ladies. Who don’t just go running off at a whim of a “resurrected” monarch who is suddenly using a known enemy as a consultant.

Yes, yes. I also recall that Circe and Ares hooked up at the end of the Rucka run on Wonder Woman, and our helmeted War God is just waiting in the wings.

Wonder Woman is released by super-spy, Nemesis, who knows something is amiss at the DOMA. He’s to be the love interest for our Amazon, and we’re to know this because he says a lot of things that, if he were balding and few pounds overweight, would quickly be turned into a series about Wonder Woman teaming up with Human Resources to face off with the menace of the Hostile Working Environment. But he’s a cute guy, so he can do things like make remarks about Wonder Woman’s can. Okay.

So DC is totally shredded and burning, and Wonder Woman is surprised to see her mother.

And still, this is the best issue thus far of this series. For once, Wondy's motivations seemed clear, the threat, while confusing and nonsensical, seemed to have been at least clearly articulated, and there's a glimmer of hope that the series will actually go somewhere once the dust settles.


I do not know how they run their ship at DC Comics, but one would think that after going through the rigmarole of Infinite Crisis, 52 and One Year Later, somebody in editorial would occasionally try to read one of the comics produced by DC. Moreover, one would hope that DC Editorial would request that writers commissioned to write stories about the characters of the DCU would also try to read the occasional DC Comic. And, yes, the boys might need to read a Wonder Woman comic, even if they think that will make them look like a sissy (it will not. That’s reserved for the CMX line.).

Due to the events of Infinite Crisis and a long trickle down effect, the Amazons appear on the mall in Washington DC, having stopped by the WETA Workshop to grab some LOTR-style monsters, and Ray Harryhausen’s shop for some winged horses. Then, with no demands made, they begin trashing the place.

This story makes no sense.

Like all DC stories that make no sense, the point probably won’t be the set-up, which causes buckets of confusion. It’s more likely that we’re to be concerned with the denouement of the story, which we’ll get to in September or so, and which was most likely handed down by editorial as the new status quo of some sort for Wonder Woman (I have my guesses as to what that will be, but I’ll keep mum). But, for right now, we’ve got armor clad Amazons burning down Our Nation’s Capital. Which is the sort of mass-carnage comics had quit showing in the wake of 9/11, and that sort of made comics like The Authority less fun for a while, but it looks like it’s okay to burn down whole cities again.

The JLA sort of gets involved, with Black Lightning showing up to take down the two (two?) Amazons sent to assassinate the President. There’s some jibba-jabba between Batman and Sarge “I’ve seemed corrupt since issue 1 of Wonder Woman” Steel, and a promise that the JLA will intervene.

And, as mentioned in the Wonder Woman “review”, Circe and Hippolyta talk some as Circe “manipulates” our Day of the Dead Hippolyta Zombie into leading the amassed Amazonian forces into battle.


What you can't see is that the cat is attacking a giant ball of yarn.

So, it would be nice to know how many Amazons existed prior to “Our Worlds at War” when they flew into space and got largely wiped out by the Imperiex drones. And then, again, when the OMAC’s attacked Themyscira in Infinite Crisis, supposedly killing a whole bunch of Amazons. Not to mention infighting during the Amazonian/ Bana- Mighdall Civil War, which seemed pretty serious.

Because right now the numbers of Amazons appear to number in the 10’s of 1000’s, and that seems like a lot. But it also doesn’t seem like enough to take on the US military (before adding in the JLA/JSA, etc…), and amassing your entire foot-plodding army in one spot? Not real smart. The 20th Century saw guerilla war for a reason.

I’m no military strategist, but Washington DC is sort of a dumb place to attack on foot or Boom Tube. It’s sort of a swampy island, and short of marching across a fairly serious river, it’s tough to get out of DC. Not to mention the military services clustered in the area. So, really, aside from maybe one good day of burning things to the ground, it seems the Amazons would now be open to aerial surgical strikes. That, and I’d be curious to see how the Amazons planned to get food and water in Day 2 of their campaign.

It is true that I’ve been watching too much History Channel.

I dunno. The issue wasn’t flat out dumb, but as with all DC series that have a weak beginning, you sort of end up curious as to where they’re going with this. Unfortunately, this attitude leads to me reading full runs of “Ion” and the OYL “OMAC”.

While it’s possible that a possessed/ fake Hippolyta might go to war over the capture of her daughter, it seems unlikely that the Amazons would have followed in lock step. After all, part of being a smart fighter is knowing when you’re going on a suicide mission.

The series seems to have a hard time grappling with prior continuity versus whatever story Pfeiffer and Picoult are trying to tell. The promise inherent in Infinite Crisis was that DC was going to make an attempt to correct continuity and keep things in check. Only a year later, and that promise seems impossible for DC’s editors and writers to keep, let alone the artists. It’s unfair to ask readers to expect to enjoy any comic when editorial has so little regard for the stories, they themselves believe are “the best stories possible”.

A Hipployta who would lead her people into a suicide mission into a super-powers capital is NOT the Hipployta I’ve read. The idea of the Thmeyscirans was always a solid defense, not to go running around half-cocked everytime Wondy is put in handcuffs (and God knows that happens about every three issues).

Moreover, from a long term perspective, any credibility Wonder Woman might have once had as a messenger for peace from a race of people who claimed to have found that perfect life/work balance has forever gone out the window. You don't burn down Washington DC and then try to take the moral highground of the pacifist. Honestly. Unless you really do think the best defense is a good offense.

And, darn it, where are my Kangas?


I have decided: I am not going to miss this series. In fact, this series ending is probably a bit like realizing that the forced break-up you’re having with your girlfriend (because she went to school out of state) has made you realize that the relationship you've been in sort of stunk, anyway.

At some point it would be nice for someone to find a use for Firestorm, and perhaps even Jason Rusch as Firestorm, but this series, and by extension, Jason Rusch, never really worked. I think that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t really get over the inherent complications of the two-seater superhero concept. Surely this run never got used to the idea.

I rooted for the series as I had no real attachment to Ronnie Raymond, but found the powers of the titular hero fascinating in concept. Even the idea that the hero didn’t know how to make a compound and needed assistance was sort of neat. But the body-kidnapping and logistics of the idea, which became a weird sort of vampirism for the first few issues, left me cold.

If memory serves, the series launch was part of a half-assed mini-quake at DC to make their comics edgier. The series debuted in the wake of Identity Crisis, and came out alongside “Bloodhound” (which looked like it needed a screeching guitar soundtrack associated with it). And something else that was cancelled. I don’t recall. In order to be perceived as "edgier", Jason was assigned an AWOL mom and an abusive, one-armed father. Then, in the first few issues, he killed a guy by merging with him. And it seems like he kept getting chased down by drug dealers and stuff… so, yeah… whatever that was.

However, with each creative reboot as a new team would come on, I held out hope that someone would either make the idea work or abandon the idea.

Meanwhile, Jason’s supporting cast never gelled, and subplots about his parents sort of lurched around without feeling significant. And, of course, his girlfriend was seven. Which is gross and illegal.

It occurs to me that in three years of this series, the origin of the original Martin Stein/ Ronnie Raymond was never really explored, nor was the final destination of Ronnie Raymond… That’s kind of weird, isn’t it?

So long, Firestorm. At least you featured The New Gods in the last few issues.


The first of a two-part fill-in issue as Fabian Nicieza takes over writing chores.

This issue seems to focus on two themes: the nature of belief, and Superman’s reaction to seeing an immensely powerful new metahuman with whom he can identify and see how his own upbringing could have led to some disastrous consequences.

Of course it’s always a bit messy when one brings sex, religion or politics into the equation when discussing Big Blue. The topics aren’t strictly verboten, but there’s sure to be some amount of hand wringing that’s going to occur when you start casting pastors in clapboard churches as playing Svengali to murderous metahumans.

That said, Nicieza has crafted an interesting story, especially as Superman can see so much of himself in the young metahuman’s rural, traditional upbringing. Moreover, the nature of the metahuman’s powers seemingly charged by the faith others have in him (right up to some point of overload) is a unique spin on the now clichéd “young-buck metahuman who needs a lesson” storyline.

The story certainly carries a certain air of doom, as so many “young buck metahuman who needs a lesson” storylines do. A longtime comic reader can see the narrative curve and certain comeuppance of certain characters, but with only a few issues dedicated to the storyline, its more about how the storyline will be executed than hopeing for big twists or a shocker of an ending.

I confess, it would have been nice to continue that whole pesky Kryptonian Criminal Invasion storyline.


So…. Pretty much nothing actually happens in this issue. As this reviewer is often heard to say: Many things occur, but not much happens.

Andy Diggle doesn’t mind that he’s writing for the trade on this one as he goes wall-to-wall action, following Batman as he takes on Luthor’s robotic forces which… have… Well, the suggestion is that somehow the GI Robots have taken over military bases all over the US, but we never actually SEE that occur, so it might not have happened. It seems incredibly unlikely that someone could actually mount such an assault without trillions of dollars at their disposal, so… I’m over thinking this.

This storyline makes no sense. It’s a really fun read to see Batman blowing up robots and riding a motorcycle through the air (wait, that makes no sense), but it’s impossible to see how this fits in to continuity. How Luthor is supposed to have walked away from his robots taking over a secret military base (or every single military base) because he can afford good lawyers… I believe a little white dog can fly, but, c’mon…

A few years ago Newsarama and other sites were stuffed to the gills with writers complaining that any fan with an eye toward continuity was a loser who was living in the past, which usually translated to: I have never read a single comic featuring the character for who I am now responsible. In some ways, that line of thinking was liberating. In others, it led to the need for Infinite Crisis and a point from which stories might once again make sense.

Further, as much as anyone can enjoy Batman out of his element and somewhere else than the streets of Gotham, somehow this story seems to have jettisoned the spirit of the Caped Crusader and his one-man war on crime in Gotham. Giant robots, Lex Luthor and threats of world domination all sort of hint that this script may not have always featured a guy who worries about getting hit with a .38 slug, but perhaps earlier drafts featured someone a bit more Kryptonian. And that this, maybe, was supposed to be a script for the high-octane stories of Superman/ Batman. But that’s just a theory.

Still, with the giant robots and all, it’s still a fun read. It just doesn’t make any sense.


The best issue thus far of a series that seems to finally be finding its footing.

Writer John Rogers has wisely steered away from the unnecessary conflicts between supporting characters which once seriously distracted from any sense of forward momentum in this book. Further, he’s not falling into the pit of the now defunct Firestorm series, and seems to be building to a point to explain Jaime’s powers and origin far better than either have been tackled in the past.

The re-appearance of Guy Gardner clears away some of the cobwebs from the early “mystery wrapped in an enigma” angle that the series dished out, especially as Jaime and Guy have a chance to discuss the invading aliens The Reach, and how they affected the Green Lantern Corps.

I just like this cover...

More than that, with Jaime’s inclusion in Brave and the Bold, and a Guest Appearance by a semi-prominent DCU character, Jaime no longer feels as if he’s floating disconnected to the rest of the DCU. Perhaps more opportunities for Jaime to fit into the over-arching action will occur (he is a titan of a teen, after all), and without those connections, its unclear how long this book can sustain readership.

Plus, Guy's admission of his respect for Ted Kord and the legacy he expects Jaime to live up to is just spot on. Heck, yeah.

Overall, a fun, funny read. Rogers is bringing this book back from the grave.


Ignore all that “Amazons Attack!” hoo-hah. This comic should be your pick of the week.

A self-contained single issue of a nifty supporting series to Justice Society of America. JSA: Classified mostly flies under the radar in fan circles (but which is usually a step above the similarly titled JLA classified), but unlike JLA: Classified, this series isn’t populated with inventory stories. However, each arc/ issue focuses on a new character, and is usually handled by a new creative team.

This issue finds a post OYL Alan Scott retrieving a former Golden Age super-crook from retirement for use in a government operation. The crook is “Johnny Mimic”, able to replicate fantastic crimes with an ability to lift empathic echoes from a scene of a crime, giving him not just the knowledge of how a crime was committed, but the motivations behind the crime.

The US Government wants for Johnny Mimic to locate a MacGuffin, stolen from their protective custody, and has threatened to pursue decades old criminal charges against Mimic/ Waddill, unless he volunteers to assist, and dispatches Alan Scott to locate our man and deliver him to the scene of the crime.

As far as this reader knows, Father Time is a relatively new face to the DCU, though he is portrayed as being of some indeterminate, ancient age. And, like all good government skunkworks type operators, he most likely has his own agenda in the DCU that’s going to remain under wraps while he plays the role of arm-twisting bureaucrat.

What’s interesting about this issue is how writer Tony Bedard addresses the flawed mode of recalling the past with rose-tinted glasses, as “more simple” or clear cut, and reminding the reader through the dialog between Alan Scott and Johnny Waddill, that for both the real world and the world of the DCU, things may not have been as grand and gloriously black and white for The Greatest Generation as we’d like to believe. Further, Alan Scott receives a much needed turn in the right direction as a character when challenged with the idea that he has slowly compromised the once proud figure he once stood for as he’s become embedded in covert ops with Checkmate, been willing to play errand boy for secretive government groups and slowly begun to see the world in shades of gray.

Too often heroes in comics allow themselves to be cowed and threatened by anyone with a badge, and the final panels of this issue may very well have bumped Allan Scott up to the top of my list.


The Lightning Saga continues!

Johns steps in for the next portion of the storyline as Geo-Force, Batman, Sandman and Starman reach an Arkham Asylum, currently in chaos as several of the inmates run wild throughout the facility. A second team including Superman, Cyclone, Stargirl and Red Tornado reach the Fortress of Solitude.

DC Editorial seems to have made a decision that not all of the sins of the past (see: post Crisis on Infinite Earths) have been corrected, especially those regarding the once immensely popular Legion of Super-Heroes characters and Superman’s long-standing association with the team.

Two more Legionnaires are retrieved as a pre-Crisis DreamGirl is found shackled in Arkham (this had better be explained at some point) and Wildfire is found playing mannequin amongst Superman’s trophies.

Johns’ dialog and easy interaction between the characters doesn’t seem to cut as deep nor approach the novelistic mode of asking the reader to read between the lines that Meltzer employs, but Johns also doesn’t seem to get as easily distracted as he’s playing with his favorite toys, and manages to keep the narrative on a single thread instead of straying off into character beats and moments not tied to moving the story forward.

With the Byrne/Wolfman re-boot of the Superman titles quickly fading into memory, it seems DC has gone ahead and fulfilled on the promise of the map of the Fortress seen in Action Comics Annual 10, which portrayed Superman’s trophy room containing those odd statues of his favorite people, including the Legion. This, of course, places the future of the current Legion title in jeopardy, despite obvious ties in this week’s issue of “Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes” to upcoming events in the DCU.

Thus far, The Lightning Saga is a heck of a cross-over, and if the story continues on this trajectory, it’s a storyline that’s going to be remembered.


After the Power Point Presentation of the World War III, non-event, filling in the gaps in the missing 52 weeks of the DCU is becoming oh-so-much drudgery.

This joyless annual is meant to fill in the gaps for our now super-secret espionage superhero team, filling in the tragedy of how the mighty Outsiders had fallen and been forced to go underground. Instead, we get a fairly rote Outsiders tale, spinning out of the unlikely self-incarceration of Black Lightning (who suddenly realizes that spending his remaining days on a prison block full of murderous metahumans was probably kind of dumb).

Winick’s favorite toy, the Red Hood, had informed Nightwing (for reasons that remain sketchy) that Black Lightning was now in danger and needed to be sprung from Iron Heights, the super-max prison that Geoff Johns created as part of the backdrop of his terrific run on The Flash.

In an insertion that seems to take entirely too long, our heroes slip in to Iron Heights, and accidentally turn off the device which blocks the metahuman populace from utilizing any powers.

Things go muddily south from there, and the Outsiders learn that breaking into a Super-Max prison full of insane, poorly-rendered killers only leads to heart ache.

Oh, and Shift merges with Metamorpho and Roy quits the team so Meltzer can have him for JLA.

For some (like my local comic shop manager), Winick is an underutilized treasure and one of the best writers currently working under the DCU flag. I find his insistence that the resurrection of Jason Todd was a good idea and insertion of the Red Hood into the DCU distracting and unnecessary. The shady world of the Outsiders too often comes across as faux-bad-ass, like Winick is just really excited to use swears and have some on-panel girl kissing. While that may reflect aspects of the real world more accurately, the stories, themselves, are thinly plotted and seem to drag out into lengthy exposition and or dialog that slows the pacing to a crawl. And, honestly, what one finds for the "adventures" of the Outsiders really don't bring anything new to comics, which may be the biggest disappointment.

I think my days of reading “Outsiders” are coming to an end.


The Legion invades the Dominator homeworld and chaos ensues.

Mark Waid appears to have taken a powder and handed this book over to writer Tony Bedard (also responsible for this month’s JLA: Classified). Immediately, the book has a new level of energy that Waid (God bless the man) could never really summon for his pet project.

Perhaps because Waid tried so very hard not to write the Legion reboot as a copy-of-a-copy of previous Legion volumes, he never felt comfortable enough simply putting forth the Legion the way it was meant to be. Bedard immediately brings back those 30th/31st century colloquialisms, and inserts a heck of a subplot featuring a one-man conspiracy within the Dominator hierarchy.

Moreover, Booster Gold makes a mysterious appearance, hinting at his new status as both time-traveling hero and as someone whose storyline is nowhere near coming to an end.

As mentioned in the review for JSA, it’s difficult to guess what the future holds for the Legion. This book had seemed ancillary to the rest of the DCU for so long (even with the addition of Supergirl) and the Legion’s long publishing history that it was difficult to enjoy the title within the grander scope of the DCU. At this point, readers should be questioning if this Legion is even the Legion of the current DCU Earth-1. Hopefully Bedard will find a comfortable niche for the book and be able to move it forward, making good on the history of the future’s most famous superhero team.

Overall, one of the best issues of the series to date, though art by Barry Kitson will be missed.

A big, big week, what with all the Amazons attacking.

Overall, this was a surprisingly strong week, seeing a decently plotted fill-in issue of Action Comics, an upswing for Supergirl and the Legion, as well as Blue Beetle. Poor, sickly Firestorm can finally go to its final reward, we can all just sit back and wish we had some of what Andy Diggle was smoking when he wrote Batman Confidential. Unfortunately, DC seems hell-bent on half-baked plans for Wonder Woman and foisting an unwanted and irrelevant event upon the readers in order to define a new status quo for Themyscira's champion.

So what did I get right? What did I get wrong? Did you love Amazons Attack? Did Firestrom deserve another three years before cancellation? What did I miss?

Come on, I can take it.

Hi Ryan,

Great reviews! I am in full agreement with you regarding your take on JSA Classified #25.

However, your review of Outsiders Annual #1 has moved me to take a moment to urge you (and everyone else reading this) to follow through on your inclination to drop Judd Winick’s Outsiders from your pull list. Please, just stop reading it.

I’m on record on my blog ( as someone who is not exactly Judd Winick’s biggest fan (although in fairness, I’ve found his Trials of Shazam limited series to be satisfactory so far and am reserving judgment until the end of its 12 issue run), so you and others can keep that in mind as I attempt to make my case as to why the Outsiders must be canceled.

Like you I’m sure, once I pick up a book, I become exceedingly reluctant to drop it. So I hung there for 34 issues until after One Year Later…and to be honest those last dozen issues were only because Jade and Capt. Marvel Jr. were on the team.

As a long time comics reader, my beef with Winick’s Outsiders and most everything else Judd gets his hands on goes far beyond the fact that he displays little sense of comic book history and even less respect for the work of those creators who came before him.

Outsiders represents all of the worst aspects of Winick’s M.O.—his sanctimonious preaching on social issues masquerading as plot and character development, his penchant to superimpose the SAME personality traits on EVERY character and his John Byrne-like inclination to unilaterally hijack shared characters, leaving it to other writers deal with the fallout (think Nightwing).

In fact, if it weren’t for Nightwing on that book, I’d be content to never give Outsiders another thought (like say… Justice League Elite).

Which is why Ryan you should save your money. Save Nightwing, cancel the Outsiders.


-- Posted by: FanBoyWonder at May 2, 2007 9:00 PM

Hey, FanBoy!

I'm not sure I feel that Winick necessarily preaches on social issues in Outsiders (I never read his Green Lantern run which won GLAAD awards as I wasn't fllowing GL at the time when it occured) as much as it seems that Winick rents a big, blinking neon arrow whenever he wants to squeeze in a character who reflects an alternative lifestyle. In a way, it's difficult to tell if he's patting himself on the back for including gay and lesbian characters, or if it's a self-conscious tic, like when one speaks too loudly because of nerves. Then again, I don't know how successful Winick actually is at writing relationships in general as my experience with his work mostly comes from Batman, Outsiders (which I pick up and drop in seemingly eight-issue cycles) and Barry Ween. Clunky dialog, poor plotting, plodding pacing and nonsensical story arcs in a supposedly "gritty" series are things I find far more troubling.

I think it IS worth questioning whether Winick has a true sense of history as per the DCU, or if he just neglects that history in favor of his own ideas. I'm not a huge follower of Dick Grayson, but I can understand your complaint re: hi-jacking of characters, etc... It will be interesting to see where Winick is at DC in a year.

No matter the case, it shall be a tough discussion with my local comic shop manager when it comes time to say goodbye to Outsiders as he is a big, big fan of Winick's work.

I just can't really muster the energy to care about the series anymore.

-- Posted by: ryan at May 2, 2007 11:49 PM