Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Ambush Bug 2

by Keith Giffen and Robert Fleming

Okay, this series will probably not win any comic awards, but considering the dearth of funny stuff in comics, you have to appreciate that somebody is giving it a try. Giffen has the best use of the Source Wall in recent history, and from there we take a romp through Giffen’s chaotic mind. He mixes DC continuity with long-running gags from pop culture, all while making fun of tons of comic book clichés. Giffen should also get at least an honorable mention for best use of the Comics Code Authority ever in a comic book. If that don’t convince you to at least take a peek, I don’t know what will.

Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge 2

by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins

The splash page intro of the Rogues makes it hit home that the style of Kolins is a little reminiscent of Jack Kirby. I knew there was a reason I liked his stuff, but I didn’t realize until just now the link that was creating a little nostalgia each time I picked up something drawn by Kolins.

Johns gives us a dose of grim and gritty realism, showing what happens when you send newbies to take out the Rogues. Interspersed throughout this masterful crafting of giving more depth to this tight-knit group, Johns also has Zoom molding Inertia for his own purposes. It’s kind of a shame this will only be three issues, because it’s an enjoyable romp. I can easily see the rogues having their own 12-issue maxi-series.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 1

by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke

This one comes with some 3-D glasses. It’s cool, but it did give me a small headache. This will be a quick two-issue series that has Zillo Valla recruiting Superman from the pages of Final Crisis to help save the world and Lois at the same time. The comic is littered with Easter eggs from Morrison’s past runs on comics and little sights of future topics he will want to write about in the future.

This series is only good for you if you want to see an attempt at explaining the new foundation of the DC universe. It is the graphically-interpreted scientific explanation for how space-time is configured now, and it overwrites Crisis on Infinite Earths for good, resurrecting the Hypertime idea that smashed open all of the parallel earth possibilities again. As a regular story, it falls short, because they are trying to cram so many meta-ideas in a few pages, they can’t tell a straight-forward story. DC has ceded the overall structure of the entire DC Universe to Morrison. This will be sure to re-ignite debates on multiple earths versus one earth again, and it is a little weird to see so much editorial power ceded to one writer. It’s one thing to give Bendis free reign to write a big crossover event, it’s another to hand the keys to your kingdom over to somebody and let them write all of the “rules” that will govern your universe for at least the next ten to twenty years.

Reading this felt like a minor echo of Alan Moore, but with slightly more repetition. There are themes repeated here from previous series Morrison has written, letting us know that he is still trying to explain some of his concepts years later; he has just switched to using some different characters. Not only do we get repeat concepts in the place of a real story, but we get immediate repetition in the form of Captain Marvel forgetting the magic word that transforms him. Like we didn’t get enough of this recently with Black Adam, plus Nix Uotan’s memory problems in Final Crisis itself.

If you enjoy watching the fruits of a story planned several ears ago take fruition, and have read everything Morrison has written in the past 20 years, this entire Final Crisis story is still an attempt by Morrison to impose his ideas on the meta-structure, something he has been struggling to do with DC for all of those two decades. He has finally been allowed to do it, so instead of working undercover, he has been blessed by the powers-that-be. This series is just part of an attempt to explain how the rules will be. Fans of Morrison will love it. As an entertaining story… it’s more like studying for your college thesis.

Legion of Super-Heroes 45

by Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul

Young M’Rissey continues to upstage the entire team, figuring out how to reverse the Legion’s problems with authority in about six or seven panels. You would think someone as smart as Brainiac 5 would have been would have been able to fix things, but evidently the entire team needs a young kid to show them the way. We can only hope the need to showcase this character fades with time; since he seems to have solved almost all of the problems that formed the main conceit of this entire series, there’s not much left for him to do except take his bows and go home.

Brainiac 5 uses the powers of Star Boy and Light Lass to save the universe from the latest impending threat with a cool idea, and spends the rest of the pages trying to give the different Legionnaires some character. Unfortunately, the particular characteristics he gives each one are irritating. Plus, he turns Saturn Girl into a cheater on her boyfriend in the space of a few panels. This entire run is spiraling ever downward.

Madame Xanadu 3

by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley

We have moved forward through the centuries to the time of Kublai Khan, and Madame Xanadu is one of his best advisors. The series is taking shape as an alternate history, taking famous people and events, and inserting the main character into the scenery, retelling each part of history to show how she was able to affect the events that unfold into what becomes our current world. But with the idea of destiny, is she really shaping all of these events, or is she a helpless pawn of fate?

The series should be great for the artist, who will get to draw new scenes every few issues, altering the buildings and surrounding environment to each new time frame the story covers. This is the type of job good artists crave. I find myself hooked, and with issue #3, would recommend this book to anyone who wants some clean art, with a story once-removed from the normal super-heroics.

Reign in Hell 2

by Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick, and Stephen Jorge Segovia

Yet again, we have a very busy cover that invites a lingering study, by Mario Alberti. The convention of “good wizards” begins as the ramifications of the war in Hell is felt on the surface world. The magical environment in DC is an interesting place right now, because the Spectre has a relatively new host, Dr. Fate is inexperienced, Ibis is a new kid, and Sargon the Sorceror is new as well. There is a distinct dearth of experience on the side of light right now.

Giffen manages to squeeze in a ton of stuff, giving us an idea of how the war is progressing while still showing and defining some interesting shock troops. The forces of good all have different connections and relationships with the world of magic, and the possibility of a change in the rule means different things to each of them. This gives us a large playing field full of vibrant characters, all of whom have their own respective agenda, each one spotting potential opportunity in the midst of a war. Very compelling stuff.

Derenick’s art fits the magical environment well, and Segovia draws art chores for the eight-page backup story. Dr. Occult continues his search for Rose, and you can just tell calamity will ensue. Also, from Ralph and Sue’s comments from last issue, Occult might have a major part to play in how the war turns out in the end.

This is quite possibly one of Giffen’s best works ever.

Trinity 13

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

Action-packed pages show a fourth member of the split-off team sent to take care of the dimensional reverter, while Superman uses the mysterious effect upon the trinity to use Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s mental skills in combination with his own prowess to single-handedly take out the big three of the Crime Syndicate. With the CSA banished, however, we get to see the unintended consequences whenever you have a vacuum from removing someone from the position of authority. The gap in ruling power means the entire planet has erupted in chaos. Nice job, Supes!

The backup story shows that things aren’t going as well as Hawkman wanted, but Busiek gives us a great view of the entire DC superhuman population, integrating the Outsiders, the Bat-family, and the JSA, all while mentioning background for nemeses of Wonder Woman, and even makes sure to include a screen that Oracle uses to keep tabs on the Joker when he happens to be I one of his frequent stays at Arkham Asylum. The cliffhanger is cool, too.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.