Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Ambush Bug: Year None 3

by Keith Giffen and Robert Fleming

The laughs aren’t a mile a minute with this series, but there is still an occasional chuckle. The Source Wall is hilarious, but Giffen messes up seriously on the first page by accusing fanboys of eating junk food while they read their comics. Why, everyone knows true fanboys don’t handle food at the same time as comics, it might damage their value! Except for the expert fanboys, of course.

A couple of the visuals are entertaining too. Although the read in general meanders quite a bit, Giffen tries to shoehorn as many forgotten characters as he can. It’s not the most cohesive story; is it too much to hope that he will pull these seemingly-random plot threads together by the end? For the most part, only diehard Giffen or Ambush Bug fans will be getting this. Halfway through the mini-series, I think I have to admit that all of the Bug’s previous appearances were better, but I’ll have to consider if that’s an accurate portrayal, or if I’m just not up for as much silliness now that I’m older.

Madame Xanadu 4

by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley

An inventive cover spins the continuing yarn of Xanadu, always leaving the fabric of history in her wake, as her destiny constantly intertwines with famous figures from our history. The coloring for this book is excellent, and the style helps to offset the minimal inking. Also of note, this is probably the first time the Phantom Stranger was ever involved in anything slightly romantic, and he still manages to remain mysterious with his appearances.

By this fourth issue, I can honestly say I’m hooked. The art style is a little different from my usual fare, but it matches up well with the Vertigo imprint, and there is a lot of history for this series to explore. I believe it may be the most captivating story I have read by Matt Wagner in recent memory. This is not the most amazing story since sliced bread, but I am enjoying it consistently, enough to suggest that if you have a spare three bucks to try out an experiment, see how you like this title.

Reign in Hell 3

by Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick

Sienkiewicz’s inking was the best choice for this war in Hell. Tom Derenick is a good enough artist to sustain things on his own normally, but Bill Sienkiewicz really adds to the art; the combination really works well. The refugees from Purgatory appear to have Neron’s forces on the ropes, and this issue concentrates on establishing a lot of the heroes finally entering the conflict and choosing sides, even if not getting along with each other terribly well. Everyone has their own respective reasons for trying to tip the balance in the favor of one camp or the other, and as full as the book is with different characters, it flows well, and hints at even more to come.

The backup story with Dr. Occult is penciled by Justiano, but the dialogue is a little clunky and persistently sarcastic for the character. Giffen is letting his one-liners slip into his writing a little too much to ring true for Occult. As is the problem with shorter backup stories, this might read better in trade format, as it is hard to move things along enough to see how they link into the main event. Still a gripping read for me overall.

Trinity 17

by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

Wow, it didn’t take long for it to look like the villains were suddenly winning! The about-face in events is fast, and the consequences are just beginning. But the main story is only 9 pages! It feels a little like being cheated, because the pacing only goes so far as to show us something immense happening as a result of the villains’ success, but we do not get to see enough to understand the full consequences.

Instead, we are diverted to Konvict and his advocate. Hah, bet you thought they were throw-away characters, didn’t you? After art from Mike Norton and Jerry Ordway, I didn’t want to go back to McDaniel and Owens; the inking is not as tight, and McDaniel’s style has always veered a little too much towards cartoonish for my tastes.

So what will this reshaped world look like? There is a news headline on a paper in the backup story that mentions the Ultra-Humanite, which reminds me of an old Justice League of America story where he was the mastermind behind removing select heroes from the JLA and the JSA, capturing them in Limbo, and letting a cosmic imbalance work to actually remove all of the heroes from Earth-2. The total reasoning wasn’t the best explanation, but this story of the cosmic meaning/importance of a few select people is a key part of the main conceit of Trinity. Will we see further connections between the old Ultra-Humanite story and what is going on in Trinity? Was this a purposeful Easter egg hint that has been dropped, or a coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence…
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.