Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

I’m back in town after a week; let’s see if I can catch up to speed quickly. Tons of reviews coming your way in the next 24 hours!

Batgirl 2

by Adam Beechen and Jim Calafiore

remember Alien, the movie? You started with one awesome opponent, and a great movie. While I enjoyed Aliens, the sequel was mostly taking the one enemy and multiplying. This has been repeated ad nauseum in the comics, and is yet another cliché (I should write them all down as things to avoid someday). In the comic version, the hero faces one overwhelming enemy, and has to exert all of his power/strength/skill/intelligence to defeat it. The next time around, there are two or a hundred of the same type, but our protagonist always seems to be able to wade through them much more easily than the single one that was originally faced. It is why the OMACs, as a more recent example, and all the others increasingly become “diluted” as opponents.

In this case, we have one impressive heroine: Batgirl. Turns out, David Cain trained what looks like five others, different attempts at a version of the super soldier. Between Richard Dragon, Bronze Tiger, the Bat-Family, Black Canary, Deathstroke, Shiva, and now allegedly Green Arrow after his year of training, the DC universe is getting somewhat crowded with masterful martial arts fighters, to the point of ridiculousness. The new entry, Marque, looks like Shiva Jr.

The lame part does not come until later, as Cassandra is yet again in the Batcave on her mission of revenge, and Oracle has somehow been granted unrestricted access to Bruce’s computers?!? I don’t think so! Not only that, but she claims to be able to cover Cassandra’s tracks so Batman does not find out what Batgirl is doing. Batman is no slouch in the computer realm himself, and has operated numerous times before and after Oracle came along. Do we really think OPSEC (OPerational SECurity) Batman, who created Brother I and has arguably one of the most sophisticated computers on the planet, can be had that easily? Ugh.

The best part of the entire story is a guy trying to get a date with her. It falls apart right after that as an old man fools Cassandra, which should not be able to happen. One of Cassandra’s talents is to read the body language of a person. Not just in fighting. Since she started out not speaking verbally at all, but mastered the art of non-spoken communication, she should be much better at detecting someone who is faking it, as the old man was.

Big drop in quality on only the second issue. This does not bode well for the title’s future.

Birds of Prey 121

by Tony Bedard and Michael O’Hare

Tony Bedard seems to have wide variety of knowledge about several different industries, and it plays well, as this issue touches on drug use, covert ops, compartmentalization, and high school! The Joker shows up and plays well with the others, so to speak. Bedard has a good grasp of the mentality of the Joker, and does a masterful job of showing how someone like that can show up, survive among the super-powered crowd, and still manage to take a leading role. This was a much better display of him than we saw in Salvation Run. Perhaps Heath Ledger’s awesome portrayal in the recent movie provided some spark to this.

This was a very solid issue, with good intrigue, and the promise of a Joker/Barbara Gordon rematch, which increases the tension just at the prospect. This was an excellent idea to inject into the series.

The Brave And The Bold 16

by Mark Waid and Scott Kolins

It’s a team-up between Superman and Catwoman, but the entire issue feels like a story from ten years ago. There are some interesting parts, and Waid does a good job of portraying Superman as a boy scout, but not a naïve one. It looks like Scott Kolins inked his own artwork; I wish he would let someone else do it. A tolerable stand-alone issue, there is no tie to anything before or after. As much as the industry needs more stand-alone stories, the average comic book collector fiend tends to want more, usually in the form of a longer saga, or at least additional connections to something else. Can this title last for long if it truly turns into a bunch of stand-alone stories with an alternating cast? Or does it need a thread to tie things together, to maintain the longer term interest that will mean enough sales to keep it going?

The Flash 243

by Tom Peyer and Freddie Williams II

Oh, when will the pain end? Williams overdoes it as he attempts to stage the characters in dramatic poses, bringing to mind the old phrase, “Methinks she doth protest too much.” He would do much better to put more effort into drawing the heroes better, and not exaggerate the positioning so much. To top it off, as soon as Jai is in one position, he is in the same position for three panels in a row, which completely nullifies the effort to stage everything else! The backgrounds are atrocious, and the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either.

We are long on gobbledygook and short on real explanations. After runs by people like Mark Waid and Geoff Johns, the bar was raised for the scarlet speedster, and DC has severely dropped that bar on the ground and stomped on it. There is a new creative team next issue. Can they save this speeding car wreck?

Justice League of America 24

by Dwayne McDuffie and Allan Goldman

Awesome cover, with almost nothing to do with the majority of the storyline within. McDuffie spends most of the time ending the reappearance of Amazo, and resolving the Red Tornado’s problem, which mostly consists of treating him like the Vision. Over at Marvel, they have adopted the policy that Vision is just a robot, so they can tear him apart any time they want to, and patch him up next issue. Now McDuffie, coming over from Marvel, is doing a rerun of that with Reddie, but without half the dramatic tension that a “destroy the android” story used to have.

The pencils are good, and the inking and colors are good, which saves the title. Steel cussing is a little out of character for the word I think he uses, but at least Wonder Woman gets used well in the major fight. Considering they just got through fighting Amazo not too long ago makes everything feel like the title is plodding along, and could use a change of pace. It’s a little strange in this day and age to have a creative team use an old villain as a major part of the story, and the next creative team immediately recycles him. Not a bad read, but not the greatness we demand of our flagship title. Birds of Prey was better this month.

NEXT issue is when we get to experience Anansi, despite the cover we were shown this month.

Robin 177

by Fabian Nicieza and Freddie Williams II

Freddie Williams again?!? I feel sorry for the writers. Taking place after Batman R.I.P., but before R.I.P. is over in the other titles, we get to see Tim Drake, Jason Todd, AND a new Red Robin in play. Willaims messes up in his positioning of characters in the fight with Todd and Robin, and we have to see Robin in almost exactly the same pose for two panels straight, but Jason Todd somehow manages to be on the opposite side of Robin in the second panel!

Nicieza’s writing is as solid as ever, and the few glimpses he gives us of what is to come are interesting. It’s worth hanging around this title to see what happens.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop. His new favorite hobby is to throw wadded-up pieces of paper at Ryan.

Explain why you believe that Oracle wouldn't have unrestricted access to Batman's computers. It seems perfectly logical to me, based on the past history alone. Unless of course, you're going to throw all of that out....

-- Posted by: Mike Shields at August 24, 2008 11:21 AM

Batman has always been paranoid, sometimes with good reason. It's one thing for Oracle to be able to "pop in" and say hi, it's another thing entirely for her to be able to monitor what somebody else is doing on his network from a remote location. I have not seen one instance anywhere else that showed he had granted her this access. If you can find an example, I'd love to hear about it though. I am always ready to be proven wrong. that's why I try to keep my words sweet... in case I have to eat them later!


-- Posted by: tpull at August 24, 2008 12:19 PM