Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Batgirl 4

by Adam Beechen and Jim Calafiore

Last month, I decried the mind-numbing cliché of spontaneously manifesting an army of super-powered foes. The idea that there are a couple dozen other fighters out there that are a match for Batgirl stretches the realm of believability. How in the world could Cain have had enough time to be a villain, and still have enough time left over after training Batgirl to train dozens of other girls? The only way things could work is if they each presented the same level of challenge that Marque did. Of course, they blow it.

Together with Ravager, they break in and fight all of the Batgirl-clones, and proceed to take them all out with ease. And in a place where Cain set the girls up to train, Deathstroke is the one who has control of explosives hidden in the wall, so he ruthlessly kills all of them, considering them to be useless, which is kinda what they are. Which means not a single one of them was anywhere near Batgirl’s level, which means the entire storyline is a lie. This is the disappointment that is modern-day comics from DC.

Add in the fact that Slade Wilson has become such a ruthless cutthroat. From his origins, Deathstroke always had his own code of honor, and his own way of doing things that made him more a shade of gray. Now? Pure villain. Making slade from a morally ambiguous mercenary into someone who walks hand-in-hand with Lex Luthor, Cheetah, and Dr. Psycho was always a mistake, and nobody else besides Brad Meltzer seems to take the character seriously.

Calafiore gives us some nice art to pass the time away, but this series is over in two issues, which will mostly be Oracle getting saved and Batgirl not killing Cain. We need more originality and less predictability if Batgirl is ever going to regain the depth of character she once had. She is quickly losing her unique appeal and turning into another faceless hero in the crowd.

DC Universe: Decisions 3

by Bill Willingham, Judd Winnick, and Rick Leonardi

This issue starts decent enough, up until the Flash says, “Roger dodger!” Then I feel like I’m in 1980 again. Followed later by him saying, “…they didn’t grok my intent.” Sigh. Bad enough the term has been bastardized from Robert Heinlein’s original usage, but how many of us have ever heard the word used aloud in a sentence? Teenagers don’t even talk like this, why is Wally acting like a hacker in his mother’s basement?

Then Jay Garrick, the older and wiser Flash, is one of the talking heads telling us for whom he will vote. Does anyone believe Jay would ever do such a thing? After that we have to put up with Lady Blackhawk and Huntress talking politics while they fight crime. Trust me, I have been around law enforcement, and when they are tackling actual criminals, they do NOT waste their breath debating a politician’s stand on tax cuts. Nothing has improved in this series since day one. For your own mental health, stay away. Now where can I get my brain scrubbed…?

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2

by Geoff Johns and George Perez

Oh, thank heaven, a good book. Hey, maybe I can finally grok something. (See? Ridiculous.)

The Legion that gets the most screen time is the original Legion, my favorite. George Perez will always be in my top ten for favorite artists, and his attention to detail is a refreshing change of pace from the average artist bear. This is a very bulky book, but Geoff Johns manages to squeeze in character names wherever he can.

All of the Legion’s adversaries are in one place: the Fatal Five, Mordru, the Legion of Super-Villains, and the future incarnation of the Justice League. Talk about imposing. Add in Superboy-Prime as the evil leader, and you have a very frightening team of bad guys. Officially my favorite DC book of the week. Notice from yesterday’s review, the JSA was my other favorite, and it was also written by Geoff Johns. Coincidence? I think not…

Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge 3

by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins

Between FC: Revelations, Legion of 3 Worlds, and Rogues’ Revenge, I think I can tolerate the main mini-series. These tie-ins have been great reads, showing that the stable of good DC writers can make the best out of the new parameters being forced on them by Didio and Grant Morrison. The cool thing is that with all of the titles Geoff Johns is writing, he has a little sway in the outcome. This final issue has all of the rogues mixing it up with Zoom and Inertia, and then Libra joins the fun. Talk about crowded!

Kolins has a good colorist helping him out, so even though there aren’t a ton of panels with background, the color blends make it seem like there is more there than has actually been drawn. As much as I like the rough style Kolins employs, I would like to see him put in more time and effort on both buildings and people.

Unlike many mini-series, there is a lot that happens here. Libra gets his answer form the Rogues, Zoom loses his powers, and Inertia does a couple of different things that I don’t want to spoil. I recommend you read it and enjoy.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special 1

by James Robinson, Jesus Merino, Leno Carvalho and Steve Scott

This is probably James Robinson’s best work so far on a Superman title, and I can only guess it’s because he’s dealing with Jimmy, who is a normal guy (at least right now). Robinson dredges up a couple characters from DC’s limbo, Codename: Assassin and the original Guardian. Truth to tell, I always like Jim Harper, and the way he dies in this comic is a little depressing, and not in keeping with his fighting spirit.

The whole point of the adventure is to uncover a plot to kill Superman, which Jimmy could have figured out just by talking to Dubbilex a few seconds more, which makes all the time afterward make Jimmy seem really dense. Aside from those minor quibbles, the various artists do okay, and this one-shot sets the stage for the New Krypton story coming up in the Super-titles. However, there is nothing essential in here, and if you don’t buy it, you won’t be missing out on any huge story piece. For $4.99, I would have preferred something a tidbit better.

Trinity 20

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

Maybe it is not fair to compare Final Crisis to Trinity, but every single aspect of this altered universe shown to the reader contains hints that relate to the DC universe in its proper form. Final Crisis hides everything in a code, and with not nearly enough explanation, to the point that you have to do research to link up Morrison’s previous works and figure out what he is trying to achieve. With Trinity, there is no homework, just sitting back and letting your eyes drink in the details.

Let’s mention another comparison: in a handful of pages, Firestorm learns (I just can’t try to use “grok” again, sorry) the highlights of the history of this new universe, saving us from the boring second stories that have been tiring me out in Tangent: Superman’s Reign. Tangent reads like a poor man’s Trinity as far as the backup story goes. The writing and the art in Trinity concisely sums up the situation, while still managing to pay tribute a ton of good classic DC comic stories.

Along the way, Firestorm helps communicate to the reader additional significance of the presence of Superman, and the impact of the world not having had Supes in it. I had thought Busiek had done a credible job of explaining each of the Trinity and their respective roles in the universe, but he wasn’t done. It is great to have a series with so many issues that can tell a dramatic story, and along the way, also manage to continually explain and define what makes these characters so significant. Can there be enough material to keep doing this up to issue #52?

The backup story brings Krona around to dealing with an offshoot of the Guardians, the Controllers. In a few pages, with great art, Krona embarks on a cosmic plan, is backstabbed by the Controllers, and still comes out on top. The revelation that Krona stumbles upon shows him a way to recruit some very powerful soldiers. I suspect we are going to see some brand new villains very soon, folks.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

Actually, I've heard "grok" used a few times in real life. I even had an executive at a large technology company say it to me and others in a meeting.

-- Posted by: Mark Bult at October 20, 2008 12:23 AM

Hmm, maybe I'm just turning into an old fuddy-duddy then. As proof, when's the last time you heard someone say "fuddy-duddy?"


-- Posted by: tpull at October 20, 2008 3:02 AM