Comic Fodder

Special DC Review: Everything I’m NOT Reading

Okay, so what happens when I take a smattering of titles I wasn’t quite convinced to pick up in the first place? What profanities will I hurl at being forced to endure this – hey, one of these is kind of okay…

Greatest Hits 1

by David Tischman and Glenn Fabry

It’s a mash-up of the Beatles and super-heroes! I am so sick of mash-ups. When will writers stop slamming two concepts together and thinking it’s genius? The opening layout reminds me of a Mad Magazine spoof more than anything else, and it’s hard to tell if that was intentional or just a mis-connected accident. The entire thing reads like a ‘60s version of a wanna-be Watchmen, with all of the cynicism of Hollywood, and no redeeming values.

For starters, the Solicitor is introduced as a hero “with an unfailing sense of right and wrong,” but he proceeds to call someone a gimp, and acts like a grade-A jerk the rest of the time. So either the writer’s sense of “right and wrong” is a little… off, shall we say? Or the puff piece on the team is just a cover for whatever psychological dysfunctions we’ll be exploring with these guys for six issues. Make it one. I’m out.

Green Arrow/Black Canary 12

by Judd Winick and Mike Norton

Cartoony art, meet cartoony writing. Shado the deadly assassin is reduced to a quivering blob because her son is sick. Sivana is revealed as the person who wanted Ollie dead, although why they could switch him out with Everyman and still not kill him is beyond me. In the meantime, I just got through complaining about Manhunter, with the writer putting in an army of super-powered goons. So what does Winick do? Why, he has Sivana cobble up a veritable army of super-powered goons! Because it’s been two whole days since I read that in a plot, and that just never gets old!

It’s like they picked the plot out of a Cracker Jacks box, and barely got the artist to draw enough. Even the colorist seems lazy, with entire pages all of one shade of blue for nine pages in a row. What’s the matter, the mad scientist refused to spruce up his hidden base with a yellow piece of equipment? It’s like the entire creative team phoned it in all at once. For someone who doesn’t read this title, I have no idea A) who Dodger is; B) how he could deactivate all those clones; and C) why the (censored) didn’t he do it nine pages earlier!?!

And at the end, if I have not misunderstood how this title has been progressing, Connor had been shot and was in a vegetative state, then kidnapped by Sivana and turned into a zombie, and S.T.A.R. labs does some magic in the space of a couple panels that we aren’t even shown, and Ollie gets to have a Disney happy ending, as Connor wakes up with movement and speech.

Worst comic of the month.

The New Dynamix 1 & 2

by Allen Warner and J.J. Kirby

Whether by mistake or design, I was handed two issues in a row of a mini-series, and I feel bad for having to say this, but almost all of the Image books look like they are drawn by the same guy who learned to draw from one or two of those “How to Draw Super-Heroes!” books, but he never managed to get better than the bare-bones sketches on page 13 of the book. The inking is bad, what little of it there is, and there is no substance to any of the characters.

For someone who hasn’t read most of the Wildstorm universe in years, the writer at least makes an attempt to fill us in on some of the story, and I do get a sense of who the players are. Unfortunately, the hero Sword appears to be evil, the good guy just took a kid hostage, and the one combination Superman/Green Lantern mash-up (and didn’t I just mention how much I detest those?) is a solitary jerk who wanted to check out and play Mr. Isolationist. For the first three pages of issue 2, he talks to a bird.

Poor backgrounds, poor angles, a cheap Booster Gold impression for Sword, and the whole thing smacks of a desperate attempt to cobble together some archetypes and introduce a mystery that can’t possibly make me care. For the right way to introduce archetypes and put your own take on them (plus a lot better art), see Rick Remender’s End League, or Busiek’s Astro City.

Or, you know, anything else out there.

The War That Time Forgot 5

by Bruce Jones and Al Barrionuevo

Oh, we almost had a winner! Dinosaurs on the cover, that automatically gives you one point. Trying to use characters that have long been neglected, another point. Barrionuevo on art, that’s gotta be good for at least one more point. Three points! I think this series already beat the other three combined.

We’re at issue 5 of 12, and the writer tries to makes sure we know who everyone is, and he almost pulls it off, but a couple of the guys look a little too similar, and there is too much going on for a new reader to understand who belongs to which faction. As much as I tried to like the whole thing, this stands as a perfect example of writing a monthly comic as if everyone is going to be with you on issue #1.

There used to be comics that I would pick up a couple of issues in, like 100 Bullets or Runaways, and if I liked how things looked, I would go back and fill in the gaps. But the key is, I would have to like the actual issue I picked up. Otherwise, it would go back on the shelf. They could have done so much better with this: give us headshots of the characters on the cover page or the first page. Give us a page recap to fill us in on the ongoing story. There is no way this series will gain new readers, which was the only way for it to grow. As it is, I predict it will lose readers every month as the writing gets more cumbersome.

Nice try, though. There are a couple of good story beats, some good characters, and some good art. The whole is just not enough, though.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

Good column. Although I enjoyed a couple of the books you reviewed it's interesting to see constructive critisism. Lots of people tell us what sucks, few tell us why in any thoughtful detail. Kudos.

-- Posted by: Jim Brocius at October 7, 2008 3:55 PM