Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review

Got all the titles at once. Enjoy! I pretty much enjoyed them all myself. Your cantankerous critic has few objections this week.

Green Lantern 33

by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Part 5 of “Secret Origin” features Hal and Sinestro on the cover, with an almost all-white background. Stunning in its simplicity, the smile on Hal’s face makes it feel like a throwback to an earlier time, which fits in perfectly with the story, since we are looking at the beginning of Hal’s career in the Corps. Hal’s initial inexperience faces a fantastic counterpoint with Sinestro as they deal with Hector Hammond. For only 22 pages, this issue contains a lot of things to like.

Take, for instance, Black Hand. One of the best things to do is take a second- or third-string villain and make the character matter. This is not as easy to do as you might initially believe. Hack writers tend to just give them a power boost and newfound confidence, and let the same old story play out. Johns lays a rich layer of historical narrative onto the legend of Green Lantern to set the stage for the impending importance of Black Hand. All the while, he also links in the prophecies.

Pay attention to what happens when the chips are down. I have lost track of the number of cliffhangers I have read that show our heroes in a pickle, and their faces reflecting the impending horror, whether it turns out that way, or (more often) turns out to be no big thing. In contrast, Sinestro doesn’t blink. Of course not, he’s a member of the Corps, and has no fear! Previous writers have forgotten this fact, but the stage direction and the way the writer handles these characters is very true to the “core” of their beings (pun initially unintended, but I kept it in after I saw it anyway). Oh, and great coloring job, as usual.

Justice Society of America Annual 1

by Geoff Johns, and Jerry Ordway

There is something majestic about the Justice Society. Alex Ross helps to portray that with his cover, adding in some people from Infinity, Inc. Inside, a classic talent like Ordway is the perfect hand to give us what is now a retro-looking Huntress, and Johns nails the various personalities all the way. I remember when just seeing an annual issue of a title made me excited, because I just knew there would be something special in it. They lost some of their meaning over the years, but the first ones were really great. Although there have technically been a couple of annuals for the JSA before now, this really feels like the first one (it also makes me long for the days when they kept track of the annuals in a numerically proper way).

Gog has spirited Power Girl away to what looks like the classic Earth-2. All is not as it seems, and we end up having a real mystery on our hands. There is a little action, some great group shots, and some behind-the-scenes intrigue with Dr. Fate and the Spectre. And wait until you see who confronts Power Girl with her faulty memory, and challenges everything she believes! This is not really a stand-alone annual, this will pick right back up in the next regular issue of the JSA title.

Reign in Hell 1

by Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick

backup story by Keith Giffen and Stephen Jorge Segovia

Sit back, you’re in for a treat, fans. Tom Derenick is a good artist, but we have an added layer in the form of Bill Sienkiewicz doing the inking. It makes Derenick’s art look a little different than you have ever seen it before, but in a good way, as Sienkiewicz’s style fits in very well with this tale of a civil war in Hell.

Without telling too much about the plot, Hell is under a simultaneous attack, and Neron is blindsided. The strategy and the philosophy behind this are brilliant, and just might be one of Giffen’s best ideas ever. The effects this battle has on the magical beings still on Earth is interesting, and will make for some exciting possibilities. Will any of this be reflected in the regular titles?

If you thought this was going to be a pet project or a throwaway read, think again. We’ve got Dr. Occult in the backup story, appearances by Shadowpact and the Dibnys... If DC carries through on this properly, they could open up an entire magical section of DC much in the same way Marvel has for their cosmic sagas with Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Just imagine if there were two or three exciting titles every month that dealt with magic and demons and the underworld of DC.

Count me in for this entire series, just based on the first one alone.

Superman/Batman 50

by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Ed Benes, Matthew Clark, Allan Goldman and Ian Churchill

It’s issue #50 for a series that many people thought wouldn’t last more than a year or two. It seems to have found good stewards in Green and Johnson. The issue picks up logically as the heroes themselves do some pick up, repairing Smallville. Out of this comes an interesting story.

At first the story seemed hokey, because it attempts a retcon (retroactive continuity, for any non-regular comics fans) that puts the origins of Superman and Batman in a slightly different light. This is always hard to do, because a retcon has to add something of value that can withstand the test of time. It has to be believable, yet still be important enough to be the subject of a story in the here and now. Very few people can pull this off, and at first it was not reading all that well.

We end up with a solid story from multiple artists, all playing out with many of the other DC heroes as a backdrop for the present-day scenes. The more I think about it, the fewer objections I have, and it makes for an even closer relationship between Bruce and Clark. You can tell I liked it because I haven’t revealed it. For that pleasure, you need to pick it up yourself.

If you only buy one issue of the entire Superman/Batman series, make it this one. Even if you don’t like it, the very idea will set your brain to thinking.

Teen Titans 61

by Sean McKeever and Eddy Barows

The first page is awkward, because we are shown a character, and we are shown a narrative caption. It takes reading the whole page once and going back to the beginning before I have the proper frame of reference to know which narrative caption belongs to the correct character. That’s a bad opening, to be able to confuse someone who has read five at least comics a day for thirty years and knows all the tricks. Thankfully, it improves after that.

McKeever gives us a buddy story, and the buddies argue at the beginning, but thankfully do not fight with their super powers like so many of their predecessors have done. One good sign is that Blue Beetle is more interesting to me here than he is in his own title. The only real gripe I have? Robin should have figured out Kid Devil was trying to track Shockwave; the idea that Kid Devil can pull one over on him is stretching things a bit.

Trinity 9

by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

Enter the villain Swashbuckler, and a good addition he is! There are some marvelous tidbits in this comic, as each and every character has some good lines, no matter how few panels each one is in. The heroes are still in the dark about the big picture, but you can see that they are starting to put together the pieces.

Okay, Busiek is officially creeping me out now. Before, I complained about the Flash taking too long to finish a task before his team leader finishes her sentence. The very next issue, Flash starts acting that way. Coincidence, yeah? Back in my review of issue #4, I griped about Batman using Superman’s secret id on a comm link. This very issue, the backup story with Nightwing shows him having a conversation with Oracle where he uses her code name for communications security, and she expresses her confidence in her own encryption ability by pointing out they are on a closed comm link, and he can call her Babs! Call me paranoid, but I think Busiek has little gnomes that read all of his internet press clippings, and allow him to make some last-minute changes to his dialogue so he can correct for any imagined deficiencies. Every time I find a little something, any small issue with any aspect of his writing, he fixes it within a few issues. I’m telling you, he has spies everywhere!

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