Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

Manhunter is the newest character here, and the best written, too. Lots of distasteful stuff in the other titles this week.

Batman 678

by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel

DC wanted their Batman R.I.P. storyline to have a large profile, so it has become standard to bring in someone like Alex Ross to do the cover for such an event. He always grabs your attention, so that part was a good call. Having Tony Daniel do the inside art was also a good choice. The rest of the story hasn’t really caught on fire yet.

The opening scene has Tim Drake reading a diary, but newer readers might be confused easily. Is it really Robin? Maybe it’s Dick Grayson or Bruce Wayne. This is one of the drawbacks with trying to do a comic in such a “cinematic” style, because they are trusting a lot of the story to be conveyed in a picture, but they tend leave out a narrative caption or two that could clear up the confusion easily. There is a very weird scene where Tim calls Nightwing up while stuffing his face with food. If you’re on the run from villains, and you need to convey information clearly, are you really going to call your super-hero buddies with fries in your mouth? It kind of puts a dent in the idea of him being on the run for his life.

Meanwhile, Bruce has hit the bottom pretty fast. The whole thing is moving a little fast, and we have had no signs of any real build-up associated with this storyline coming out of left field. Morrison would be better suited to actually tell more of his story in words than just having the artist paint us a picture, because the general feeling from reading this is that there is more going on than we’re getting to see, and it feels like we should be getting a little more. If DC is going to hype things this much, they need to learn to deliver better.

Legion of Super-Heroes 43

by Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul

Whatever freshness we were hoping for from Jim Shooter, it just wore off. The entire beginning of this version of the Legion centered on them being outsiders, and raging against the machine. After their help in saving the universe, the team was brought into the authority patterns, and welcomed as part of the defense of the United Planets.

Fast-forward to the current issue, and the government is trying to arrest them again. We just read that story! The last thing we need is to have the new writer recycle part of the story we just read, but emphasize the paperwork (?!?) that Lightning Lad messes up. This is a super-hero team, not the United States government. If I wanted to read three issues straight of someone dealing with bureaucracy, I’d just go to my day job.

Manhunter 32

by Marc Andreyko and Michael Gaydos

Time for a little fun, for a change. Manhunter meets the new Blue Beetle, and Andreyko makes sure to point out that both of them are a little in over their heads when trying to figure out their respective super-suits. There is also an Easter egg of sorts involving the puppy that Iron Munro got for Ramsey. The dog is called Thor, which is also the name of the dog of the original Manhunter. Confused? The original Manhunter was Dan Richards, and his dog Thor was later revealed to be an android dog. What does this mean for the current dog that has eyes that whirr and click? Time will tell.

This title again proves a pleasant read, but not the sort that knocks your socks off. The cover is dramatic too, but what the cover conveys does not really happen inside the book; maybe if the cover had been more literal, and the consequences more dire, the level would rise. I’m just hoping that the comic improves, because slow and steady doesn’t seem to be good enough anymore for a book like this to avoid cancellation. Somehow, somewhere, they’re going to have to kick things up a notch.

Nightwing 146

by Peter J. Tomasi and Rags Morales

It’s the conclusion of an all-too elaborate story, as Talia has been funding genetic research to build herself an army, to protect her from her father. It becomes a free-for-all as she finds out the research methods of her stooge and disagrees with them. Throw a little Nightwing into the mix… and you’ve still got a so-so story, until they manage to screw even that up.

Nightwing intentionally maneuvers Creighton, the main bad guy, into getting wet and being struck by lightning, so he drowns and dies pretty quick. The idea that Dick Grayson would do that is just unbelievable. If he was going to hit the guy in the head from after the wetness, he had time to do it before the guy swooped down and snatched the baby! But somehow, even though Nightwing managed to hang on through the dip in the water, and the climb to 500 feet or so, we are supposed to believe he couldn’t slam the guy in the head a couple times before he swooped back down and went higher in the air again with a baby?

This was entirely contrived to try for a dramatic scene to wrap up the story, and it fails miserably. What DC editor let Nightwing become a murderer? Is this name, Michael Siglain, the right name? He deserves to be fired. Tomasi needs to go away, because he just ruined one of the few moral characters DC had left. Maybe we can do like they did with Chuck Austen over at Marvel, and make the ruling that anything Tomasi wrote is removed from continuity forever.

Here’s a hint, guys: stop being lazy and write an ending that is true to the character’s morals and actions. Kramer should have known better himself, and drawn something different.

Superman 677

by James Robinson and Renato Guedes

High hopes are here in the form of James Robinson, and dashed so quickly. The first few pages are incredibly stilted speech by Superman and Green Lantern, and they are spending their time talking about how Kyle got lucky with the “exotic” Jade? Are we really going to pay three bucks to listen to the Boy Scout talk dirty shop? While the pilot hot-shot who respects Alan Scott talks that way about Alan’s daughter?!? I thought I picked up a copy of Superman, not Locker Room Trash Talk. What is it with all these modern writers trying so hard to inject talk of relationships into the super kingdom? And failing at it miserably?

Okay, instead of just complaining, I’m going to do something about it. Anyone who can reach James Robinson, tell him to look up Justice League of America #194 (first series), and read the interaction between Ralph and Sue Dibny and Barry Allen. You will read just a page or two of excellent interaction, and no suggestive talk about how Jade (rest her soul) was "exotic,” and implying how lucky another guy got to (censored) her. Or better yet, let’s just call Gerry Conway and ask him to take over Superman. Just like Jim Shooter spending too much time on paperwork in a super-hero book, Robinson spends way too much time opening up his story, spending it on talk that would be more natural for me to hear in a high school locker room than by two heroes out in space.

The rest of the story introduces the first Science Police, trying to tackle your (insert generic description here) monster, and Atlas comes in to take out the monster before Superman does. That’s right, folks, Clark can’t hear a 300-foot tall space monster, but he hears Atlas calling him out. The cover is by Alex Ross, and evokes the idea of Atlas from mythology holding up the world. Atlas implies he has time-traveled from the past. So we’ve got an unexplained space monster and a time-traveling myth. Are they related? Or will the monster never be mentioned again, just a convenient set-piece of eye candy? Let’s go ahead and tune in for one more issue to see if the writing improves to the level of the art.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.