Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

Action Comics 871

by Geoff Johns and Pete Woods

Alex Ross continues to do cover treatments for a ton of the DC titles, and notice that Krypto is still getting center-stage treatment, even though he is not the focus inside. Classic heroes Nightwing and Flamebird are also featured prominently, and if you get a chance, this cover links up with the previous issue of Superman to form a bigger picture. The cover to the next Supergirl magazine will also line up to add to the overall cover-poster. It is great to see DC doing things like this, rather than offer a variant cover of the same issue. Between this and the interlocking Trinity covers, it lays to rest one of my old rants asking for the publishers to do precisely these sorts of things like they used to. There’s no way I can take credit for the idea, but then, there’s nothing to prevent me from declaring that somebody at DC read my rant and agreed that it was a good idea, so let me pull a Colbert and declare… I was right! (commence celebration)

In two quick pages, Johns gives us a sample of the different opinions and viewpoints that our new Kryptonian visitors might have concerning the human race. It is a sign of the maturity of story-telling that we get to see variation, rather than simply introducing an entire race and having them all be reading off the exact same sheet of music. Who knows how many factions there are within Kandor, and what complications this might present for Kryptonian-human relations?

General Lane has mysteriously returned from the dead to recruit Luthor, but it’s easy to see the two hold no love for each other. Pete Woods has replaced Gary Frank for the art on this issue, and the effect is nice. One difference is that Frank put a lot of effort into his Superman portrayal, and that is now missing, as Woods tends to draw Superman with no special attention compared to anything else on the page. Also, compare the impression that Flamebird and Nightwing make on you from the cover, and their rendering on the final page. Nightwing looks almost androgynous on the last page. Things might have gone better, but I suspect Pete Woods was doing his own inking, something that might get its own rant from yours truly if it keeps happening. About two out of every twenty artists can creditably ink their own artwork.

Booster Gold 14

by Rick Remender and Patrick Olliffe

This adventure is full of good art, but it is missing some of the magic that started Booster’s new series. Ordway’s inking adds to Olliffe’s pencils in a delightful manner, as Remender pulls in the Chronos pair from his recent conclusion of the Atom series. The story lacks a little something, although the time-jumps with Mister Freeze are hilarious. This issue wraps up the Starro problem, leaving most things nice and neat, except for the future fallout of dealing with the Chronos pair.

Part of the problem is leaving out too many details. Rip Hunter knows what happens in the future, but all he does is throw out some cryptic warnings. Will we get more details next issue, or is this something that will linger for months to come? There was too much jumping around and not enough of someone like Rip giving us a glimpse of the big picture, and that is what we need to make this series anything more than a fix-the-time-problem-of-the-month story. The writer needs to let us know if Booster has fixed most of what Rip recruited Booster for in the first place, and inform us what is the main concern for Chronos and his main squeeze. If the details do not come quickly enough, this series’ momentum will fade out, and no amount of time travel can fix that.

Detective Comics 850

by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen

The Hush invasion concludes, with Alfred spotting Hush’s impression of Bruce Wayne immediately, and showing us some martial arts skills that surpass anything we’ve seen in him lately. The choreography of fighting runs downhill from there, as Batman, strapped down to a table, magically manages to wrest a saw out of the hand of one of his many assailants. Eh, chalk it up to the flunkies being slightly zombified.

The rest of the fighting is also sub-par, as Hush fires at point-blank range, and Batman’s cape absorbs them with no discernible effect. A final flashback completes the set-up for Hush in his origins, but then Hush finally lands a couple of bullets, which do nothing more than push Bats back a few feet. The ending is cartoonish, reminding me of the way Syndrome met his demise in the Incredibles. So much for the plans of an alleged mastermind. To top it off, Nightwing is naïve enough, even though there’s no body, to say, “I think he’s really gone this time.” Yeah, right. Paul Dini should know better.

We end with Bruce declaring his love for Selina, which brings back up the sore topic of why this was called an R.I.P. tie-in, because I can’t for the life of me find any way this story ties into what is going on in the rest of the Bat-universe. Batman R.I.P. is supposed to be about a big change in Batman’s life that deals with the disappearance of Bruce Wayne. The center conceit of Morrison’s epic (or at least attempt at an epic) revolves around Bruce’s relationship with another woman, whereas here Bruce makes all of that hollow, declaring his feelings for Selina. This is basically an anti-R.I.P. story, really. They should have just taken the R.I.P. banner off of these Detective stories and let them stand on their own. As it is, they do not complement each other in any way, and even disagree with each other. DC’s attempts to boost sales by declaring this to be part of the overall meta-story when it is clearly not leaves me hollow, and ruins part of what Dini was trying to achieve here.

Green Lantern Corps 30

by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Two stories abound in this issue, the first dealing with Kryb (think Crib), who is stealing the babies of Green Lantern relations. The second is the historic diplomatic missions of the Guardians to Zamaron. Tomasi is writing well these days, and has some killer dialogue. The differences between the green and the purple are laid out clearly for the reader, with just the right amount of dramatic tension in the encounter.

The combination of what the Guardians see as a threat from the “love” Zamorans and the Kryb abductions add up to them making a truly bad decision: they forbid any relationships between Corps members. Hey, at least you can date outside the Corps… for now. The storytelling is great, and you can see the steps that lead to this decision, with some excellent choices by the creative team in how they portray each segment of the issue, from the secret deliberations of the Guardians to the diplomatic meeting with the Zamorans.

One of the results (and inevitable drawbacks) of showing the Guardians so much center-stage is that they lose a touch of their mysteriousness. They also appear to be just as flawed as anyone else, putting the lie to the idea that they have any intrinsic wisdom that makes them better than the next organization. While it will make for some exciting stories, it does lay to rest the old intrigue that made us look upon the Guardians with a greater degree of respect and wonder, as their obviously poor decisions do seem to be the result of fear, and greatly reduce any enigmatic aspect they might have had. Good stuff!

Manhunter 36

by Marc Andreyko and Michael Gaydos

Finally, we end Manhunter’s trip south of the border. It had the feeling of dragging on. Most of this issue catches us up with the various supporting characters, and the fallout of Kate’s interference. Following the previous cliché of randomly producing an army of super-powered goons, they then give us a brand-new organization that has seeped into every corner of the DC universe, magically linking up Wayne Industries, Luthorcorp, the drugs Speedy takes, the cybernetics that Cyborg uses… you get the point. The sudden appearance of yet another super-company is a little cheap, and obviously just a plot device that will be forgotten in a few issues.

Long story short, this series is still limping along at average speed, and still needs some shake-up, something truly dramatic to raise its profile among the competition of capes titles.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

Manhunter is canceled as of issue 38 which may explain why it is limping along. Sadly it is one of the few books I buy monthly as I eschew most in favour of trades.

-- Posted by: Simon MacDonald at November 17, 2008 11:54 AM