Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

This week we have the good, the good, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I just can't figure out if the ugly is good or bad yet.

Booster Gold 11

by Chuck Dixon and Dan Jurgens

One of the cool things about Booster Gold’s time travel theme is that the creative team can take nostalgic romps around the characters of yesterday. This issue lets us catch Batman and Robin during their “lighter” years, and shows you just what a difference one line can make in art: Batman always seems to have a wisp of a smile on his face, as opposed to his modern dark, grim countenance. This is the first of a two-parter written by Chuck Dixon, and it is some good writing, folks.

Dixon explores the commonly-named butterfly effect as a new doozy of an anomaly begins, throwing Batman’s history and all of Gotham’s into flux. Booster has to go undercover to be the timeline equivalent of duct tape and repair everything, but things don’t go exactly right the first time out. It’s more story by Chuck Dixon, guys, grab it any time you can! Oh, and Jurgens does a fine job on the art, as usual.

DC Universe: Last Will and Testament 1

by Brad Meltzer and Adam Kubert

If you have the patience to wait, you might want to hold onto this one-shot for another week or two before reading it, because it takes place slightly farther along in the Final Crisis storyline than the rest of DC has reached. Meltzer hop-scotches to various characters, including one scene with Captain Cold inserted among the rest of the heroes, and proposes a look at what each hero would be doing if he or she knew the world ended tomorrow.

The main story follows Geo-Force as he attempts to get revenge for his dead sister, Terra. Meltzer must have something of a crush on Deathstroke, because he tends to use him whenever he gets a chance. I can’t blame him, the character is wicked awesome. As usual, Slade Wilson is two or three steps ahead of everyone else, and Geo-Force is more captivating than he has been for quite some time. I must admit, I did not expect anyone to be taking him in this direction. How will the revelations in this one-shot affect him in his regular development in Batman and the Outsiders?

This is a good read. Fans might be intrigued to pick this up and find out just why Deathstroke considers Geo-Force to be “an investment.”

Justice Society of America 18

by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, and Dale Eaglesham

First there was Gog. The cover shows us Magog. How does Magog enter the picture? And what will Kindom Come Superman do about this? It all starts here. The JSA is still tailing after Gog, not quite able to make up their minds on how to handle him, or even if he needs to be handled at all. Eaglesham is back at the inside pencils, and does a good job, although it can be inconsistent, as there are multiple inkers in his work, so the looks varies a little from page to page. Jerry Ordway gets to do a few panels highlighting Power Girl, as she starts to figure a way out of her predicament on Earth-2.

This is an intermediate issue, which means it is not useless filler, and it is not a drawn-out, decompressed piece of (censored), and it is not something to help make a story fit into six or twelve issues so they can easily market it as a trade later. It is a fun read all in itself, and sets the stage marvelously for next issue, when the JSA members make up their collective minds what do. Here’s a hint: they won’t all be in agreement. Ooh, this is good stuff!

I have to make a comment here and distinguish the good storytelling. Your average comic writer tends to arrange for super-humans to meet, do battle over some misunderstanding, and then make up and team up. Johns and Ross have plotted out a much more intricate dilemma, with the heroes already together, and all being friends, or at least allies. There is no misunderstanding, because everyone present understands what could be at stake. Yet events have conspired so that these long-time friends will take up opposing sides of an issue, and knowingly, willfully, go against each other. That is throwing aside the long-time clichés of comic books and introducing some good meat. This is not the normal kind of mix-up or artificial tension that is introduced and settled in one issue. This has been a patient build-up to dramatic tension, which should make for excellent conflict in the upcoming parts of the story.

Well done, and my top DC recommendation for the week.

Superman 679

by James Robinson and Renato Guedes

Oh my goodness, how the mighty have fallen. James Robinson comes to this title with a strong reputation and high hopes. I suspect some people will appreciate what he is trying to do here, but it all falls flat for me. As if we didn’t get enough of unexplained fisticuffs last issue, the first five pages are nothing but a slug-fest. After the first three, even a brand spanking new reader could understand that Supes is up against a tough customer, and may be losing. You only have 22 pages in a normal comic to tell your story, and the creative team wastes two entire pages with useless fight poses and worse dialogue in a decidedly uncreative way.

As a very small digression, this waste of space simply throws me into a flashback of the Doomsday story. Doomsday, like Atlas, was a somewhat mysterious adversary who showed up with little notice, created destruction wherever he went, and proved more than a match for Superman. So the point here is, in addition to wasting my time with a boring slugfest that is repetitive and uninspiring, they have also managed to remind me of a previous Superman story, making this feel not only like time wasted, but also like a re-run, to boot. This all means that the team is writing in trade paperback format, and trying to read things once a month will result in momentary confusion until all is made clear with the next issue. It is not good mystery or development, it is sloppy and irresponsible.

For no apparent reason, they switch the scene to a conversation between Clark and Lois from earlier. The last time they showed us a snippet of this conversation, I was confused. Was this simply me being dense, and not able to comprehend the masterful workings of the mind of Mr. Robinson? no, sadly, there was no way anybody could make any sense of last issue’s conversation, because it was half (or maybe a third or fourth) of an entire conversation, none of which looks like it is going anywhere. Robinson takes hard-as-nails Lois, raised as a tomboy by her military father, Lois who can handle weapons better than you can, and reduces her to a weak feminine stereotype, jealous of Zatanna.

Then, to make matters worse, he has Lois talk about her menstrual cycle. I’m pretty sure I have never seen Lois talk about this in the past 70 years of her appearance in DC comics, and I really could have stood another 70 years without reading this. This is not Lois. This was an excuse to show Lois in panties, jumping Clark’s bones. It follows in the pathetic wake of the distasteful locker-room sex talk Robinson had Superman and Green Lantern engaged in two issues ago.

The next five pages throw all of DC continuity out of whack, since Lana Lang just about killed Superman over in Superman/Batman last month, hurling kryptonite missiles at him. She was under someone’s control, but here she automatically leaps to help Supes, and gets fired. Not a bad scene, just incompatible with everything else in the DC universe right now.

Supergirl tries to come to the rescue, and a satellite weapon is somehow fast enough to tag her with a bulls-eye, taking her out of the battle in about two seconds. Too convenient, but they needed this to set them up for their attempt at a dramatic scene to convince us that the stakes are genuinely grave. In a lame attempt at further dialogue, Atlas-from-the-past appears to have no idea what a jackal is, as if nobody had jackals thousands of years ago. Check this history books, dude, they did.

The worst scene in the book (aside from comments on menstrual cycles) is the final page, with Krypto and his disgustingly bad doggie thoughts. Could any one person of the hundreds of people at DC possibly have pointed out that the page would have looked okay if they had no words, just the picture of Krypto? The seven caption boxes are… developmentally challenged. They destroy the entire mood, and belong somewhere around 1965, or in Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug series.

Some of the artwork is good, and Alex Ross is still doing his superb work on the covers, but the writing is making a horrible, horrible mess of everything related to Superman.

Teen Titans 62

by Sean McKeever and Eddy Barows

The spotlight falls on Marvin and Wendy, plus we get the entrance of Wonderdog! Most of the issue is character development, along with Tim Drake looking uncharacteristically frustrated. You would think he didn’t have time to be slumming over at Titans Tower, what with Batman missing and all, but hey, we’re on comic universe time, and they can be in more places in a day than you could in a week!

The blog-o-sphere has already exploded with what happens in this mag, but I feel at this point describing it would still be a spoiler. I have mixed feelings about it, but I am trying to suspend judgment until we get more of the storyline. Let’s just say that the entire issue takes a turn we did not expect, and things get bloody. The future is going to explain the resurrection of Bombshell (who I believe was one of the “dead” heroes showing up for the super-draft in Final Crisis, meaning maybe her presence wasn’t a mistake as much as just too early; either that, or the Teen Titans book is coming out really late), a new foe for Wonder Girl called King Lycus, and some recruitment to fill out the ranks of this group.

So far the developments with Marvin and Wendy have been greeted with nothing but disdain and harsh words on the internet. Considering that the last time I saw these Marvin and Wendy was in a Superfriends comic, it feels a little weird, but I’m going to try to give it a chance. It does make things slightly interesting, though, so if you have a spare three bucks, pick this up, and let me know if you are pleased or repulsed.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

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