Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Checkmate 29

by Chuck Bruce Jones and Manuel Garcia

Cool-looking monster on the splash page, but the switch in Chimera to a brooding, “I work alone!” jerk seems slightly out of place with what we saw in previous issues. It feels artificial, as if the author just needed a reason to introduce a different kind of tension, so settled on character conflict. The Global Guardians are made to look ineffective solely because the story calls for Chimera to be the hero, adding to the sense of things being written just to move the story where the writer wants it to go with his new pet character, using the background of DC characters not to grow his story organically, but only as a convenient backdrop for his own purposes.

The art is unsettling on the next major splash page, because what does it look like Chimera is doing to the monster-animal? I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, even in Texas and Las Vegas. I am hoping this is an accident, a positioning that the artist did not realize could be viewed in such a disturbing manner, as opposed to an intentional posing, because that’s just wrong.

The entire story is a deviation from the original conception of Checkmate, and without someone who has a head for intrigue like Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker, this series needs to end quickly, because it feels like a different title from the one we’re supposed to be purchasing.

Final Crisis: Revelations 1

by Greg Rucka and Philip Tan

This is your next place to go for the Final Crisis story, and Phillip Tan has outdone himself on the art. The Crispus Allen version of Spectre has never looked so cool, and Rucka’s commentary on vengeance and justice is right on. Rucka is also able to move along the Question’s story, as the Crime Bible appears to hold a role with Libra in the overall Final Crisis storyline, which means it will probably all trace back to Darkseid. Sort of been there and done that with Levitz’s Darkseid story in the Legion of Super Heroes, but I’ll hang out and see how this one turns out.

Is DC cleaning house on some villains? If so, I think I don’t mind. The development of some of these villains has been decrepit, so ridding the universe of useless extra villain faces might let writers settle down and develop some good characterization for the smaller number that are left. The intersection of the two heroes at the end is dramatic and gripping. I am already enjoying this tie-in more than any other; that was fast work for the creative team!

With luck, a series of good tie-in mini-series will help to improve the overall final Crisis meta-story, because the FC series alone needs a little help still.

Trinity 11

by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher

Busiek gets his characterization down pat, all the way down to this: he manages to include Superwoman and Owlman flirting, and causing Ultraman great annoyance, even in the middle of a super stand-off. Superman continues his great role of protecting all life, even the scumbags, and catches something that even Batman may not have seen. It is cool to see other characters show some intelligence, rather than every writer and his dog showcase Batman running circles around the intelligence of anybody else who is present. This is good writing folks, and should be used as examples to newbie writers of all that is possible to include in your stories. This addition makes for great reading, rather than just watching the heroes be put through their paces on another adventure.

Remember when Busiek wrote JLA/Avengers and Superman and Captain America were acting slightly “off?” Supes is a little off again, and his long-time friends notice. Is this another Krona tie-in hint? And what the heck is happening with John Stewart? The Trinity figures out their emotions and styles are all overlapping onto each other, just as the set-up for next issue leaves us eager to see what happens next. These guys packed so much into the first story section, I can’t even launch my usual complaint about the backup story taking too much meat away from the main plot. They managed to satisfy me with the few pages they had. That’s always a good sign, when a creative team can surpass my expectations.

The backup story continues in the style of Scott Mcdaniel’s, but not as cartoony, so I like this version slightly better. The dialogue is great, and Gangbuster’s Nth improvisation highlights the difference between Bruce Jones on Checkmate, and his using DC as a backdrop for his own story, and a good writer incorporating elements of DC to enhance the story. If DC was smart, they would hire people like Busiek and Nicieza to give lessons to their stable of writers and help them improve all of their titles across the board.

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

Well you are going to get your wish Checkmate ends with issue 31.

-- Posted by: Simon MacDonald at August 16, 2008 10:03 PM