Comic Fodder

Erik's Weekly DC Comic Review 1-9-08

Hey everyone, from now on I will be the resident DC comics reviewer and while I don't buy every book published by the company, I feel I have a pretty good handle on what makes the DC Universe click with its readers. This week I have four reviews including one review from the previous week. This post is going up insanely late due to personal obligations but here on out expect DC reviews a day or two after their initial release. So lets get to it.

Detective Comics #840
By Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen

With Dini’s latest issue of Detective, the “Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul” finally comes to a long overdue close. Hurt most by an inconsistent voice of four writers scripting the story, each dove-tailing the plot to center around their character’s book, the crossover left readers with a yarn that lost its focus. However, where Grant Morrison jumps back to his “Three Batmen” story, Paul Dini gives the people what they want, some payoff to this atrocious crossover. Thus, Detective Comics #840 is a fantastic Batman tale which creates a mind blowing shift in the status quo for both Bruce Wayne and Ra’s Al Ghul.

The issue begins with Batman tracking down a villain named the “Globe”. In fitting fashion with every other lunatic in Gotham, the Globe commits all his crimes via a shtick, in this case revolving around maps. Of course Batman wins the short fight but not without Ra’s showing up to ruin the party. Ra’s and Batman share words, ninjas are fought and Batman escapes, but not without his sweet ride being destroyed. With that being the last straw, Batman decides to meet Ra’s for one final showdown and to say Bruce brings him behind a shed and spanks him would be an understatement. The end of the issue is one of the coolest ideas I have seen for the Batman/Ra’s dynamic and I am excited to see where it goes.

The last thing to comment on with this issue is that it is the first for the new regular penciller, Dustin Nguyen. I had seen his work previously in Superman/Batman and wasn’t very impressed. When I hear “Detective Comics” I think gritty and dirty which Nguyen’s art is anything but, as he relies on a flashy, artsy look to his figures. However, after finishing the issue I can safely say I dig the art as Nguyen wins me over with his depiction of Batman sitting atop a ledge and the whole page where Bruce does his best “THIS IS SPARTA” impression.

When these plot threads get picked up is anyone’s guess. Sadly it will probably not be for some time which is a real bummer. With characters like the Green Lanterns, and soon to be Superman, getting their defining epics, its time Batman got the same. For the longest time I have felt that his ongoing titles never build, but instead just tell nice concise stories. I long for the day when a writer comes along and tells one overarching story that knocks the socks of Bat-Fans who are probably the hardest to surprise. With the “Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul” failing to do so, I begin to hope that the beats hit on in the latest issue of Detective lead to something major down the road.

Green Lantern Corps # 20
By Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Carlos Magno

Peter Tomasi has it pretty good right now. The editor turned writer is scripting some of the hottest titles for DC in Black Adam: The Dark Age, Nightwing, and Green Lantern Corps. Tomasi, who has picked up the writing reigns of GLC following Dave Gibbons, is lucky enough to start his run on the title exploding out of the gates because of the Sinestro Corps War. What is so fantastic about this series is the sheer limitless potential of stories you can tell following this epic event. While still reeling from the fallout of the war, Tomasi chooses to cut the focus down from the multiple corps members the series has been following to two of the four earth GL musketeers, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner.

There is a lot to love about this issue. Firstly, the buddy cop angle with Kyle and Guy moving to Oa to open a bar together and start a new life as honor guard corpsmen is a fantastic story choice. Now most of GLC action can take place on Oa and the various sectors of space the cast travel into instead of juggling home planets. Secondly, you have Mongul, who is one of the biggest badasses of the DCU getting plenty of face time to prove how hard he is. It also seems Mongul’s power hungry ring snatch-a-thon won’t be a simple “x amount of issues” story arc but instead a subplot running through the series until the tensions are highest which is another great choice by Tomasi to keep readers checking in with GLC month after month, which brings me to my biggest concern with the series to date.

The preview at the back of this issue indicates that the next story arc will revolve around the Alpha Lanterns. Now if you are reading Green Lantern Corps, then its probably a safe bet to say your reading Geoff John’s main Green Lantern title which is also covering the introduction of the Alpha Lanterns. I have read that both series would be tied closer together following the Corps War, but if GLC is just following Green Lantern’s lead from here on out till “Blackest Night”, it might be a hard sell to people trying to save some money. It should be no surprise that what Geoff John’s is writing over in the main Green Lantern title will feed into “Blackest Night” the strongest, as he is the guiding light for everything Green Lantern at the moment and I don’t want to see Tomasi hindered in his story telling just to follow an editorial mandate, because the guy has talent.

Art wise GLC#20 is pretty solid. The first batch of pages are handled by Carlos Magno and while he draws some pretty good smurfs, his Kyle Rayner looks like he needs “Just for Men”. Patrick Gleason has become a staple with this title and once he takes over part way through the book, everything begins to feel right. With great dialogue, humor, deep characters heading in a fantastic new direction, and art that is passable to pleasing, Green Lantern Corps #20 is a comic worth picking up at the store this week.

Nightwing #140
By Peter Tomasi and Rags Morales

Nightwing and I have a tough relationship. He is one of my favorite characters but I can never get into his ongoing title. I like to think it’s a combination of talent attached and general direction picked for our lead. So this marks the third shift in creative talent since “One Year Later” and yet another opportunity to jump aboard the Nightwing train for Erik, so how did the issue fair?

Before even opening the comic, I breathed a sigh of relief as Nightwing finally gets some grade A talent attached to it. I have already spoken highly of Peter Tomasi, in my GLC#20 review, and he is joined by Rags Morales, penciller of Identity Crisis, who should gel for some top notch storytelling. One thing I have found hard to read about Nightwing in the past is his lack of connection to the rest of the DCU. Yes, I agree Nightwing needs to separate himself from Batman, and he rightfully deserves it, but if he is a cornerstone of the DCU, then show it. Apparently Peter Tomasi feels the same way as this first issue has Dick meeting up with his Bat Family, Talia, talking up Carter Hall (Hawkman), and a surprise guest for the cliffhanger. In this regard, I am a happy camper, I really want Nightwing to fit into the bigger picture of the DCU and hopefully Tomasi can keep that up.

It also helps that Tomasi has such a pro like Rags Morales to pencil his scripts. Morales is a damn good artist and it shows in his first outing on Nightwing. Everyone looks distinctive, has fantastic facial features, and action is clear from panel to panel. Overall it was a good start to the new creative team and I look forward to more. I just hope Tomasi can keep Nightwing relevant to the rest of the DCU but still be his own man. It’s a tricky line to walk, but if anyone has the skills to do it, it would be Tomasi.

The Spirit #12
By Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone

We have our comic of the week right here. Cooke’s final issue of the Spirit is such a knock out of the park that it had me near tears. By adapting one of Will Eisner’s stories, Darwyn Cooke is able to tell one hell of a love tale that is a perfect send off to the series and a fitting tribute, something Cooke’s run aimed to do from the start. With the help of spectacular art, the whole issue packs quite a punch that should leave readers in a state of melancholy. On one hand, heartbroken for the life Denny Colt could have had, but also excited for his future, as he has always been the adventurer, a fact he comes to terms with in the end. Its very sad to see Cooke and company leave this series but I am happy to say that the ride has been fantastic since issue 1. The future of the Spirit series is in good hands but it will be an uphill climb for the new creative team as Darwyn Cooke is the person responsible for me falling in love with the character.