Comic Fodder

DC Comic Reviews: Week June 20, 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.



And, by popular demand, we're back for Part 2. Well, not actually popular. Readership is erratic, and comments sporadic, at best, but that doesn't mean I can't revel in my delusions of grandeur.

And a special request as we move forward with this review business... Please feel free to comment. Just let me know you're out there. I have this vision of Comic Fodder as a community, and not just a few dudes writing about comics. So, you know, feel free to take me to task or debate me.

Anyhow, here's the stuff I didn't get to last night.

On to the pain!



THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #4
Written by Mark Waid; Art by George Pérez and Bob Wiacek; Cover by Pérez

If Mark Waid is handling Supergirl so much better here and in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, why isn't DC trying to give him the solo Supergirl book? In the interest of starting a groundless internet rumor, I'm going to speculate that Waid and Berganza don't get along. And, to further fuel the groundless rumor... It's a blood feud.

In the interest of full-disclosure, this reader doesn't particularly care for Lobo as a character. We find him neither funny nor exciting and don't understand the "Main Man's" late-80's appeal. We understand that his incredibly grisly history, in the correct hands, could play for laughs. However, I think I've laughed at Lobo twice, once in "52" and during his appearance on the animated "Justice League" television program. And do not get me started on "Lil' Lobo".

At any rate, Waid handles Lobo with the same care and craftsmanship with which he's handled each character in this series, playing Supergirl off Lobo surprisingly well in a team-up which many other writers would have made hammy or gone for the knee-to-the-groin gags before the end of the issue. Instead, Lobo and Supergirl find themselves in Destiny's garden (always interesting when Gaiman's Sandman work crosses over with the DCU, especially when used sparingly), and more information is gleaned regarding the MacGuffin. Or, rather, "the book".

Meanwhile, the somehow still related story of Batman tracking down the Haruspex device continues as Batman continues to be merged with Fatal Five cyborg, Tharok, giving artist George Perez something new and weird to draw.

All in all, the series continues to be a fun ride across the DCU, delivering on an engaging story, spot-on characterization (which might be useful for introducing readers to characters they might not follow) and George Perez' art seems to actually improve with each issue.

The internet is an echo chamber for complaints, so reading reviews, one might not find much on Waid and Perez's "Brave and the Bold", but it's one of the best reads currently on the shelves by DC.



COUNTDOWN 45
Written by Tony Bedard; Art by Jim Calafiore; Breakdowns by Keith Giffen; Covers by Ed Benes

The cover of this issue, while super-cool, has very little to do with the events depicted in this issue. This is not a JLA/Karate Kid cross-over issue. In fact, one might suspect they did not have a cover for this issue and this was concept art for an issue of JLA.

Nonetheless, the weekly format may be working differently in Countdown than in "52", but the series is learning how to balance the separate storylines a bit better as they converge within each issue, including the "ships in the night" aspect of how Holly Robinson seems to be hovering on the periphery of Jimmy Olsen's world.

This issue pursues a bit more of Jimmy's relationship with the New Gods from around Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 134 or so (apparently now in continuity), while attempting to reconcile the missing past of Jimmy's former perpensity for taking various serums to briefly transform into everything from Elastic Lad to "Fat Jimmy". It's worth noting, for those keeping score at home, that "Elastic Lad" was also a member of the Silver Age Legion, right about the time that Lightning Lad was brought back from the beyond as referenced in the JLA/JSA crossover series "The Lightning Saga". Readers may want to seek out a copy of Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1 in order to keep up.

Curiously, a type-o appears a few pages into the issue when Jimmy refers to Kirby's "Forever People" as "The Tomorrow People", made all the more curious by the Forever People's lack of an appearance on the two-page, catch-you-up spread, but their shared Voltron-like super-persona of "Infinity-Man" does make an appearance at the bottom of the page. Apparently Mark Moonrider has a hard time getting respect.

Donna Troy demonstrates her Wonder-Girlishness as she faces off against the pre-programmed warrior/assassin, Forerunner. All in all, it was nice to see Donna actually get scrappy, but the question of "Who is Donna Troy" seems ever more muddled despite Jimenez's attempts to rectify the situation.

Whether readers need to have all of this information at their fingertips, or whether the writing team is doing a sufficient job to share the right information in exposition is a question worth asking (and any reader who wants to chime in is welcome). Forerunner's roots as a toy of the Monitors is revealed and it seems to open many, many cans of worms for where this character might appear over the next 44 weeks.

I invite readers to check out the ongoing column, Blogging Countdown here at Comic Fodder for an in-depth discussion of the why's and wherefore's of the DCU's year-long event.



THE SPIRIT 7
Written by Kyle Baker, Jimmy Palmiotti and Walter Simonson; Art by Kyle Baker, Jordi Bernet, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story; Cover by Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone take a break for an issue as separate creative teams tell three short tales of Central City's blue-suited crime-buster.

Hopefully Will Eisner is smiling down upon this issue from his place in Comic Creator Valhalla as comic veterans stretch their muscles and attempt to take on the same short, eight page-or-so format that was used to tell almost every Spirit story during the years when The Spirit appeared as a weekly newspaper insert in newspapers during the 40's and 50's.

What's curious is that, while the writers have certainly captured some of the tone of the original series (which is not the violent vigilante Miller seems to be pitching in Hollywood), the story telling of Eisner seems to elude even veteran scribes such as Palmiotti and Walter Simonson. Certainly Eisner's love of the manner in which the Spirit could be playful, all while examining how people can effect one another in the world at large like a vast Rube Goldberg contraption plays out best in the Palmiotti/ Jordi Bernet story. Walt Simonson and Sprouse capture the harder hitting femme fatale stories which Eisner seemed fond of telling. Baker's story, while visually interesting, ground to a halt too many times as art superseded flow for the story. Also, two issues featuring dangerous, beautiful women may have been too many.

The groundbreaking work of Eisner's layout isn't as present in these stories as one might expect. However, Sprouse succeeds with a classic Spirit splash page and Bernet gives a page which appears lifted directly from Eisner's later work, such as "The Building".

While readers might be a bit disappointed that Cooke didn't handle chores on this issue, the pay-off is just as rewarding as if he had. This series is a terrific, fun read. It's a shame that so few comic fans seem unwilling to take a chance on this title when it delivers month after month, even when Cooke takes a month off.



So that's it for this week. You got two days of DC reviews for the price of one.

Readers really need to look into picking up The Spirit. Don't worry, it's mostly self-contained stories, which in this era of mega-cross-overs would be a relief even if the stories inside weren't great fun.

Countdown may be just complicated enough to melt my brain, but I'm enjoying finding clues in Showcase Presents volumes I'm reading on the weekend. The team working on this series (and tying the last fifty years of DC together) and integrating old and new across the 52 is sort of blowing me away, even when the issues can be a bit clunky or muddled.

And, of course, what is better than a half-cyborg Batman teaming up with The Legion? That's what we get next month, readers. Pick up Brave and the Bold.



So what did you hate? What did you like? Am I way off on the The Spirit? Is it a bunch of hooey? Do you get freaked out by Elastic Lad Jimmy? You tell me where I missed the point and missed the boat. And don't be nice.

Come on, I can take it.



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Ryan is your resident reviewer of DC Comics. He keeps his comics and himself in Austin, Texas. He likes Superman.
ryan@filmfodder.com

Not to be snide, but I have a hard time taking a character named "Karate Kid" seriously.

-- Posted by: Mister Miyagi at June 26, 2007 4:19 PM

Well, Mister Miyagi, if memory serves, the producers of the 1980's film "Karate Kid" were aware of the DC Comics character of the same name. Apparently there's a "thank you" to DC in the credits of the film.

Sadly, Karate Kid may be a bit on the nose, but its also less silly than some of the other Legionnaires names. Matter-Eater Lad?

Now THERE'S a movie.

-- Posted by: ryan at June 26, 2007 7:32 PM