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Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

Besides Trinity, we also get one book each this week featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Let’s see how they stack up.

Action Comics 868

by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

The first couple pages were so amusing, I had to show it to my girlfriend, who cannot get into comics to save her life, but she laughed at this one. The characterization is better here than anywhere else, and Johns manages to capture the essence of each character, even if we only see her each one for a couple of panels.

The switch to Superman and the ensuing action are nice. I have to give props to Gary Frank, and his efforts to craft Supes to look like Christopher Reeve. It feels like this is paying off for other characters too, and my never-ending complaints of his poor work on faces may have to fade away if he continues to improve as he has on this issue. It’s always a particular joy to pick up an old book and immediately spot the style of someone like Steve Ditko, but it is a relatively newer pleasure I find myself having when I see an artist growing before my eyes. If Gary Frank can maintain this level of effort, I will be very happy.

The continuity is slightly loose, because the context of Brainiac has changed somewhat from previous encounters. In this version of reality, Superman has never come face to face with the “real” form of Brainiac until now. And the new thing that Superman learns is chilling. The end scene is also slightly amusing, as Steve Lombard treats Superman’s absence as a cross between a personal affront, and an impatient taking-for-granted. The story is kicking into high gear folks, this is a good time to be reading Action Comics

Batman 679

by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel

The best thing I can say about this issue is that Tony Daniel’s art continues to impress me. That said, there is a slight problem when the art is superior to the story itself, because it indicates something lacking. The true measure of perfection in a comic is when both parts join together in matching highlights, and you know you have reached a new level when their combination equals more than just the sum of their parts.

Morrison does have a couple good ideas in here, such as the grid of the city, which is shaped by and in turn shapes the lives of people. Such an interesting idea is given short thrift to focus on a maniac Batman. We have equal parts good and bad, as Bat-Mite lays out an explanation of sorts for what has been going on, but the explanation falls short. By this I don’t mean it is not clear, I mean it could have been better.

The revelation is that Batman thinks so far ahead, he planned for an enemy to conduct psychological attacks on him, and prepared an alter ego for Batman. His brilliant idea for an alter ego… a variant on Batman. I wish I could find an emoticon sufficient to express my dripping sarcasm when I say how brilliant that was.

After all of the history of Batman, his impressions of Zorro, his Bruce Wayne persona, the impact Superman has had on his life, the backup personality is still a Batman personality?!? I personally find this extremely unsatisfying as a reader, although the idea of a backup personality is an interesting one. There are a multitude of alternative choices for a personality that Bruce Wayne could have chosen other than just a variation on Batman again. It does raise the question, though, how has Bats avoided using this personality since he developed it, because I believe he has been under psychic attack on more than one occasion since Zur-en-arrh.

The story is moving along faster now, but Doctor Hurt’s attempt at impersonating Thomas Wayne is lost on me, unless he is hoping that Batman is so far gone, this will somehow confuse him further. Hurt is so arrogant, he reminds me of Bane in his attempt to break the Batman, just a mental variation on an old theme.

The end analysis of this storyline reinforces my own belief, and what others have suggested to me over the years, that Morrison’s tales are better read in trade format. By the time we get to the end, I may enjoy the story more, but it would be good to see Morrison put on graphic novel duty, so he can craft his tale and release it at once, as I find his monthly style to be less than satisfying.

Green Lantern Corps 27

by Peter Tomasi and Luke Ross

This issue has my favorite cover of the week, by Rodolfo Migliari. Meanwhile, we get some scenes from characters out of DC’s Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files. Johns and company whetted my appetite with a ton of character bios, and now we get to see some of them come to life. The rich cast gives the creative team a broad canvas on which to paint, an opens up certain doors of creativity that some of the more Earth-bound superhero titles cannot match.

Kyle and Guy are developing quite nicely into a cop duo sort of thing, and Tomasi has a good grasp on things. This is probably my favorite issue of Tomasi’s on anything to date. The coming big story in Green Lantern titles will take place here in part, and the series is finally starting to look like a fair partner for the main Lantern title.

Wonder Woman 23

by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti

The big bad villain reminds me of Brimstone, but with spikes, but he still looks cool with Lopresti on the pencils. The story is much like last issue, good with the parts where we get Wonder Woman, and weird when we switch to Nemesis. Her history and connection with Nemesis are so new and tenuous, but we already have Donna Troy making these grand gestures to him. How about we see them on a date first? Diana and Tom, not Donna!

Simone doesn’t explain how the magic lasso can return and respond to Diana when she is still obviously tainted, but the quality of storytelling is as good as any the princess of power has had recently, it is adequate. In order for me to recommend it to anyone, though, it needs improvement.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop. His new goal is to get Ryan to say more nice things about him.

Dr Hurt probably is Kane at this point. That's the only guess that apparently hasn't been made, as Morrison has publicly stated that no one has figured out who it is yet....

-- Posted by: Mike Shields at August 18, 2008 6:01 AM