Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

My rankings: Action best, Birds of Prey second-best, then Robin. Then… “teh suck!,” as some of my online friends like to type.

Action Comics 869

by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

It’s hard for me to envision the cover of this month’s issue of Action Comics, because I can’t imagine Clark ever letting his guard down on the farm to let his uniform peek out. Plus, DC wimped out and changed the text on the bottles so they are now “soda pop.” Clark’s might have been Root Beer to start with anyway, but let Pa have a nice cold one, will you? Come on! Still, the half-Brainiac moon in the background is wicked.

The pacing is excellent in this continued story of Superman’s confrontation with Brainiac, and you can still detect Gary Frank’s effort to keep some of Christopher Reeve in the likeness, which I still find cool. The only somewhat questionable thing is how the robotic drones can be pushed by a table or knocked out by Lois Lane with a fire extinguisher, while Supergirl nearly gets taken out by one. Chalk it up to the robots being taken by surprised and just knocked over, but not out. The action sequences are fun, and the supporting cast gets in on it too. Next issue is the finale of this particular storyline.

Batgirl 3

by Adam Beechen and Jim Calafiore

Oh, if only Calafiore would work on the chins of his characters and give them some definition. Still, he’s growing on me, I think. Nightwing is still playing the heavy in a somewhat pointless confrontation with Oracle, because there is no consequence to it. Allegedly, even Batman would have missed Oracle’s tampering with the Bat-computer unless he was looking for it, which begs the question: what in the world was going on in Nightwing’s mind that he would choose this moment, and only this moment, to purposefully go looking for tampering with the Bat-computer? It’s way too fabricated, although it did allow me to use the word “Bat-computer" in a sentence. Cool!

The story is proving to be too much of a cliché, as I mentioned last month. Ravager joins Marque and Batgirl, but their opponents are billed as better fighters, and faster. Excuse me? Batgirl was Shiva-level! It doesn’t get “better” than that. For martial arts prowess that takes years to develop, the sudden appearance of a dozen new women who are all potentially better than Batgirl is pushing things too far. The best thing is the appearance of someone spying on the ladies in the last panel.

It’s not too bad even with the cliché, but the first Batgirl series started off stronger than this. They will need to improve if they expect to stay in publication for a longer period of time.

Batman and the Outsiders 11

by Frank Tieri and Ryan Benjamin

Ug. We had Chuck Dixon, and now we get Frank Tieri? That is usually grounds for immediate cancellation of subscription. We run into immediate problems, as we are dealing with the after-effects of Batman R.I.P., but we still haven’t seen the conclusion that takes Batman off the playing field yet in his own series. Tieri doesn’t have enough of a story to move on, so he wastes a lot of panel space with unnecessary slow pacing. An entire two-page spread of Penguin getting beaten up could have taken place in one panel! A couple pages later, the simple act of Johnny Stitches calling to Batgirl takes up three entire panels, which is at least one or two panels too much. The artist didn’t even work too much on it, as evidenced by barren panel backgrounds with a few ink lines drawn. The rest of the issue is people sitting around talking.

What a pathetic waste of time. I call now for a new writer and different artist.

Birds of Prey 122

by Tony Bedard and Michael O’Hare

Bedard starts off with the effects from the Visionary’s attack on Manhunter, which takes her off the board more effectively than putting her in the hospital. Zatanna is used sparingly, but still with a small reference to Identity Crisis that makes you say “ouch.” Very nicely done.

The Joker continues with his plan to flush out the mysterious entity known to villains only as Oracle, to great success. O’Hare’s art is decent enough, but barely better than Ryan Benjamin’s knack for few details in the background sometimes. Still, the ending is good enough to run a chill down your spine.

This is quite possibly the best the Birds of Prey has ever been, story-wise. Try it.

The Brave And The Bold 17

by Marv Wolfman and Phil Winslade

This issue might be confusing for some people. We start with Lara being haunted by her father’s orders to kill Superman, but that was an alternate universe kind of thing. The new Zor-el being introduced to us in action does not resemble this attitude at all. Is this a continuity mix-up, or just residue from her experience in the beginning of this comic series? Winslade is excellent on art chores, as he alters the style for flashbacks of a new character, who is the descendant of a particular character we haven’t seen in a long time.

When the story isn’t introducing this new kid, who is behaving somewhat evil, the focus is on Supergirl teaming up with Raven to get a handle on her emotional state. Wolfman handles Raven so well, it’s almost criminal what Winnick is doing to her over in Titans. The cliffhanger is good, and Wolfman continues to spin a good yarn. I’ll come back for part two next month.

The Flash 244

by Alan Burnett and Paco Diaz

What is the point of this title anymore? Black Mass is able to sneak up on a distracted Flash? The speed freak gets jumped by a huge, lumbering character who can move, at best, at normal speeds? Blech. In a poor attempt to help set the stage for Wally’s next big challenge, they do a poor job of showing us the real Flash in action.

What is this next big story plot by the new creative team? A re-run. Yep, remember when Wally was Kid Flash, and something was wrong with his powers? At the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally became the Flash and could run no faster than the speed of sound. This was originally conceived by Marv Wolfman and George Perez (the “my speed is killing me” part), so if you’re going to steal, why not steal from the best, right? The narration by Burnett gets things wrong in the retelling too, as originally, his speed-of-sound limit was imposed on him AFTER he was cured of the deadly part of his failing powers, and was a new limit on him. The way the flashback goes, it’s like he had the limit from the changed physiology. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, these guys didn’t read their old comics well enough, and the editors are slipping, as usual.

Wait, it gets worse. Without any magic from Zatanna or scientific tests, Wally immediately figures out this is happening to him because he used his powers to cure his kids last issue. Gee, that linking makes… no sense whatsoever. But hey, let’s just assume Wally has magic powers of deduction and got it right, because that’s what this pathetic story wants us to take in. Notice I’m using “pathetic” a lot with DC this week, huh?


Robin 178

by Fabian Nicieza and Freddie Williams II

Does Robin keep getting an artist who draws cartoony because Tim Drake is supposed to be young? Freddie Williams II is back for art, and drawing in his exaggerated sideburns again. Yuck! I would like to say he does a vicious Ragman, but a closer inspection reveals it’s the same Williams style, but done up a ton better because of the coloring and inking jobs. Someone tell Williams how to draw a proper chin, please.

We are well into the stage where Batman has disappeared, making for a strong disconnect with the rest of the Batman R.I.P. storyline still going on elsewhere. It’s not worse than most other poorly-timed crossovers, but that’s only in respect to DC’s recent doozy of killing Orion three times in three different comics within the span of a couple months.

Nicieza’s dialogue continues to steal the show, providing an occasional gem in a logical story that has Robin trying to figure out how to hold Gotham together without a Batman. He teases us with a little more of a peak at Red Robin, and the pacing feels right for this one. If Williams can go away for a different artist, I’d like this title a little better, but the writing is still solid. It’s not ground-breaking or award-winning, but no Robin title has ever really been that way, unless you maybe count part of Chuck Dixon’s run back in the day.

Titans 5

by Judd Winnick and Julian Lopez

Hey, here’s an idea? Why not turn yet another title into a “let’s sit around and talk all day” book? Because Bendis hasn’t done that to us nearly enough in the past few years. Winnick tries to develop the Garfield/Raven relationship, which was always strained from day one. He was pretty much the last one in the Titans left for her to flirt with, except for maybe Cyborg. Nobody since Wolfman and Perez were ever really able to capture the essence of Raven, and although they try valiantly here, it just doesn’t measure up.

Starfire and Nightwing spend some time trying to figure out where they stand with each other, with each one doing about the opposite of what their respective characters should do. It’s like Winnick doesn’t even know who these people are. We have an alien, Koriandr, running around asking Dick if he loves her in a “forever” kind of way. Uh yeah, that’s not Koriandr. Never has been. She has always been the emotional, passionate one.

Meanwhile, where has the proper upbringing of Dick Grayson gone? Why has he been devolved into DC’s manslut just because Devin Grayson or some other writer wanted to see him get more action? I think Nightwing has gotten more action than any three DC characters combined, between Barbara, Huntress, Starfire… and that’s just the super-powered ones! Leave it to Winnick to have the guy raised by the stoic Batman to have a five-page heart-to-heart about his feelings. Two thumbs down!

Oh, and the problem with these cliché-ridden additional progeny of Trigon? They’re back already. Probably because Winnick doesn’t know how to write any way other than a six-issue trade style anymore. Like we’re not getting enough of this type of stereotypical cliché in Batgirl right now?

Lopez does well for the art, but they go a little overboard in the last panel, with Garfield shouting into the heavens, rather than changing into an animal and running straight for Raven. The dramatic pose stuff is pretty sad. I predict this story will oh-so-conveniently end next issue. Can we cancel the whole title and just read Teen Titans in the interim?
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.