Comic Fodder

Erik's DC Comics Review Rock Block Part I

We got ourselves a review blowout this week on the DC front. Feast your eyes on the best the DCU has to offer.

Batman #673
By Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel

You know you have a good comic when in twenty two pages of story the creative team is able to encapsulate everything said character(s) stand for.

Batman #673 is that type of comic.

When we last left the Dark Knight he was having a heart attack/ surreal summoning of Bat-Mite( yea I know, its weird). I feared that Morrison’s wacky ideas were going to get the best of his Batman run and make me lose interest. I loved what he has been writing prior to last issue’s conclusion which left me scratching my head. Now that I have read the latest issue, I wonder why I doubted Grant Morrison in the first place. Taking the recent heart attack/ Bat-Mite summon, Bruce Wayne’s Thogal meditation in Nanda Parbat during DC’s missing year, and Batman’s confrontation with his parent’s murder, Joe Chill, Grant Morrison is able weave a fantastic nightmare of a hallucination in 22 pages that brings everything Batman is about into focus. The issue says so much about the character in both the nostalgic and current continuity sense that anyone should be able to pick up the issue and understand the character even if you have never heard about “Batman” before. However, don’t think that means you can pick up this issue and understand what is going on as the “Three Batmen” story has truckin’ on for some time, making this issue but another layer to the cake.

What has me so giddy about this comic is the sense of completeness it gives. But let me make myself clear, not “completeness” in a story-line sense, but in a satisfaction sense, in a complete understanding of what makes Batman tick, every facet of him sense. Morrison really hit the nail on the head with this comic, and its pretty obvious issue 673 is the best he has produced thus far.

I have been ranting and raving about Morrison’s writing for the entirety of this review, but let me say that Tony Daniel’s art blew me away this issue. When he picked up the series at issue 670, I was impressed, but some of his panels where hard to decipher, and some messier than others, leaving me wanting J.H. Williams back after his amazing “Club of Heroes” story. However, 673 is a masterpiece of art and has completely turned me around on Daniel’s craft. Daniel gets to draw quite the plethora of Batman timeframes this issue and pulls everyone off with flying colors giving the reader fantastic panels to ogle over far after their reading has finished.

I can’t recommend Batman #673 enough. It is a fantastic display of the writing talent of Morrison and craftsmanship of Daniel, producing a Batman comic that is both original and a looking glass into the character’s soul. The pieces to this “Three Batman” story continue to fall, and I couldn’t be more excited for the outcome leading straight into Morrison’s cumulative “Batman R.I.P” story arc.

Green Lantern #27
By Geoff Johns and Mike McKone

Its really hard to review Green Lantern now. The title, under Geoff Johns, has been so fantastic for so long that I sound like a broken record. I dig every facet of mythology Johns draws into the Corps and it sure makes for damn good storytelling. Part two of the “Alpha Lanterns” is actually a pretty important issue for this series. With the Sinestro Corps War over, a lot of readers were probably anticipating the series to take a breather, not hard to imagine given the teaser at the end of the Sinestro Corps finale for “Blackest Night” having a tag of “coming 2009”. However, Geoff Johns continues to ratchet up the tension with some tasty nuggets as we head into his third act, Blackest Night.

The issue picks up with Amon Sur’s Sinestro Corps ring making a B-Line for Arkham Asylum, and a new bearer of its power. The villain who receives it makes sense, but I’m thankful for the way events play out. This Batman villain doesn’t need to become an exclusive villain to the GLC because, as of late, the Corps have already beefed up their rogue’s gallery including Cyborg Superman, the Anti-Monitor, and Superman Prime who are all main villains of the entire DC Universe.

Once this certain fear inducing individual is taken care of, the rest of the issue is spent dealing with the fallout of Amon Sur’s murder at the hands of Laira, member of the Lost Lanterns. This is where all the substance of the issue comes from. The debate of justice vs. murder leads to the induction of the Alpha Lanterns, cops of cops. One of the best elements of the Green Lantern title post Sinestro Corps War is the inclusion of John Stewart as a main character. The title has now become a buddy book with a shared spotlight between John and Hal. Because of this, John Stewart’s induction into the Alpha Corps packs quite an emotional punch due to the reader becoming invested with the character. Something is rotten in Denmark with the Guardians and its great to see John Stewart really step up as a character and not become a blinded sheep for the Lantern Corps, I really think this will be one of the more interesting subplots running through the series.

Speaking of rotten Guardians….. earlier I mentioned how Geoff Johns is already moving the chess pieces towards Blackest Night and issue 27 is solid proof to that cause. We get a vignette of one of the Guardians recruiting the Vampire hunting Lantern, Ash, to track down the Anti-Monitor’s corpse following its defeat in the SCW. However, did you see her eyes?! Me thinks this guardian is going to be a leader of the Black Lanterns, and that is an interesting twist I never saw coming.

While issue 27 had plenty of jaw dropping plot points, the art was also very good. I still stand by the fact that I want Ivan Reiss back but Mike McKone is a serviceable replacement for the arc. I thought he drew a great Sinestro last issue, but what really sold me on his art was the first time you actually see the Alpha Lanterns in action, talk about freaky. The reactions of John Stewart, Hal, and Graf help sell the situation even more, making for some scary last few pages.

With fantastic plot developments, and good art, Green Lantern #27 is yet another fantastic issue in Geoff John’s continuing Green Lantern epic. Let me just say I have a lot of friends that prefer Marvel to DC, and that’s good and fine, but if there was one title worth handing them to convince them of the majesty of the DC Comics, its potential for epic storytelling on a universal scale, Green Lantern would be that title without a shadow of a doubt.

Action Comics #861
By Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Geoff Johns is on fire right now. Since taking over Action Comics, he has spun some interesting stories, but none like his current epic “Superman and the Legion of Superheroes”. This storyline, now in part 4, has done something I haven’t seen in a Superman comic in years; creating a sense of Superman taking part in an epic without resorting to a “Crisis”.

Issue 861 finally gives readers some background on the Justice League of the 30th century, and of course, Johns is able to take these otherwise straight lace villains and turn some into tragic figures. By no means am I cheering these jerks on, but it still adds a much needed layer to this tale, and possibly gives readers hints of double crossing once true motives are revealed. Brainiac 5 also steps up to reveal his true colors and it turns into an awesome confrontation with Superman and the Legion adding more beats to their personalities if you weren’t familiar with the Legion prior to this story or the Lightning Saga that crossed over in the pages of JLofA and JSofA earlier this year.

Gary Frank continues to rock face with his pencils on this title. Even with some women coming out looking like a wasted hooker at a club at 3 a.m., Frank is able to nail facial expression and really sell the drama accompanying the action. My favorite moment comes when Brainiac 5 tries to say he was “wrong”. The three panels depicting him trying to spit out that word against his will and ego make for a fantastic display of Gary Frank’s talent.

Even with Superman taking a back seat in this epic storyline, “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” hits all the marks for displaying what makes Superman the legend he is to members of the DCU, past, present, and future, and therefore, Action Comics continues to be a great series to pick up.

*Also I should note that Action Comics has seen a continuous flow of issues from John’s and company for 7 issues, another thing worth cheering about.

Black Adam: The Dark Age #6
By Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke

With issue 6, Peter Tomasi’s Black Adam mini-series wraps up and oh what a conclusion it was. Black Adam’s magic word is finally revealed in a hilariously awesome sequence in Fawcett city that had me dying of laughter which seemed both oddly welcome and out of place in this otherwise dark series. Doug Mahnke also continues to impress with his visuals as he nails Black Adam’s rage and frustration culminating in a confrontation with Faust at the finale of the series.

52 succeeded in making me fall in love with a lot of c-list DC heroes but without a shadow of a doubt, Black Adam and Booster Gold stood atop the heap. What is so strange is Black Adam has probably come out of the gates of 52 shining brightest. The Dark Age has been a fantastic character study and so far, best mini-series of 2007. I also loved that the story didn’t put a nice bow on the whole situation, leaving plot threads open to be addressed in the future, something I greatly look forward. There isn’t much more to say about this issue, or series as a whole, it has a big thumb up from me. Here is to Tomasi and Mahnke who have successfully put their stamp on the Black Adam continual tragedy.

This is but part one of my DC reviews for the week of February 3rd. So check back in a couple of days for part two as I have been a little behind in keeping up with comics best universe.