Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

I’m running a little late writing these up, but I had to go out of town for a couple days, and my computer is running about as fast as molasses for some reason. But they’re here! And right after I suggested DC might be doing okay, they turn around and disappoint me with their latest batch of comics, most of them doing worse than the previous issue from last month.

Batman and the Outsiders 13

by Frank Tieri and Fernando Dagnino

How much longer does this title have to go? Remember last issue when Remac got killed and Thunder was put in the hospital as a result of the actions of the Black Glove? Well, every other hero decided to pack up and go home. That’s right, forget about justice or even getting even with the bad guys, Grace and Green Arrow and company just decided to quit. Nothing says “I’m a super-hero!” like throwing a tantrum and putting away all your toys. The very concept is idiotic, and shows that DC has no clue what to do with this title.

The title has turned into a promotion comic, letting the Vigilante show up and kill mobsters to help promote his upcoming series. Spoiler shows up, cloaked, and yanks away his gun, throwing him around like she can bench-press fifty tons. The art has poor choreography, making it look like Vigilante is being beaten up by the Flash on steroids, as opposed to a teenage girl. So much for body armor.

There is such terrible discontinuity between this issue and the previous one. Batgirl spends some of this issue looking at prospects for a new team, ostensibly to go after the Black Glove? There’s a question mark there because the Black Glove is not mentioned. Plus, Oracle is already doing the recruit-an-operative thing, and do we really need two of DC’s heroines doing this? It’s all nonsense. Why does Nightwing even let her access the Bat-computer anymore, with the face-offs he’s been having with her in her mini-series, and now in this title, as of next issue?

The Brave And The Bold 19

by David Hine and Doug Braithwaite

A little bright spot amidst the gloom that is DC this week. David Hine has written a number of titles at Marvel, almost all of them trying to contain a certain amount of suspense or mystery. He successfully brings that feel to DC, but perhaps it is easier when the Phantom Stranger is one of your main stars. A strange, deformed child has a connection to the planet Kahlo, and when Green Lantern finds out via the Phantom Stranger, they take a road trip. They encounter just as big a mystery on that planet, and the little girl on Earth is still linked to the alien world somehow.

Braithwaite does a good job on the art, although the inking is a little heavy on the human faces. Don’t quote me, but I think this mystery is wrapped up with next issue. This first part was good enough that I’ll jump into the next part without any reservations. For better or worse, this title was more enjoyable than most regular series that have a constant cast.

The Flash 246

by Alan Burnett and Carlo Barberi

Let me say something positive about the Flash issue: the cover was mildly inventive, and I actually liked it for a change. Best cover in months. The inside is a shambles. Linda Park West is in serious condition because she has been bitten by bees. Yeah, it’s hard for me to fake any concern over this either. Most of the remaining part of the issue is eaten up by a bunch of flashbacks that are supposed to help us understand why she is so important to Wally. The flashbacks themselves are not too bad, but it feels strange to have to read six pages of backstory. I mean, Wolverine has forty-year chunks of bad memories floating around, and we can still recap his sorry life in a couple pages if we have to.

The remaining dialogue stinks. Sorry, there’s no way to put lipstick on this animal. The kids sneak up on Wally at his wife’s bedside, and he says, “How’d you find me?” What?!? Was there supposed to be some hide-and-seek game that nobody told me about? Oh no, then two more pages of flashbacks! Meantime, even with two inkers, the art isn’t winning any awards. Another series they might as well cancel if they can’t do anything better.

Robin 180

by Fabian Nicieza and Freddie Williams II

Talk about a big let-down. Whatever the Red Robin story had been building up to, it already feels anti-climactic, as an obviously sub-par villain engages Robin. Nicieza has Robin break the fourth wall via the narration text boxes, which might have fit well for Deadpool, but doesn’t fit in well here; it feels too much like Robin is suddenly aware he is a comic book character, and speaking to the reader, when it could have been phrased better to keep it more like he was talking to himself.

Freddie Williams II needs to stop doing his own inking. That’s all there is to it. The various parts of the plot have been juggles for so long, the final reveal is not very strong. The mastermind of the large planning, ironically enough, is someone who calls himself Anarchy. The final couple pages seem exaggerated, as Robin opens up a warehouse filled with steel drums that have both(!) C-4 and TNT taped to them. I lose count of how many there are total, but Robin basically stands there for five panels and then the place explodes. I should add that to the list of clichés, the exploding warehouse on the last page thing.

Supergirl 35

by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

With this issue Supergirl is brought into the larger Superman universe, so Alex Ross does the cover for this issue; as far as I can tell, he will continue doing a ton of DC covers every month. So every aspect of the other super-titles enters the picture here, from the recently-resurfaced General Lane to Kara’s parents and Kandor. We finally receive an explanation for Kara’s many conflicting memories too, in the form of kryptonite poisoning.

The story and art are both decent, and I think the tighter continuity with the other Super-titles helps. We get a flashback that actually shows us things that help fill in story gaps, as opposed to some of the space-wasting flashbacks in Flash this week. The story picks up in Superman 682 next week, and they now have the numbered “triangles” that show a different type of numbering to help you follow the storyline through all the different mags.

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

I felt the same way about the issue of Robin, and suspect that we're just looking at filler issues for Flash at this time until Final Crisis ends and they can relaunch Flash.

What I would say, not to disagree with your assessment of this week's Supergirl, is that for readers who wandered away from Supergirl, now is a good time to come back. Sterling Gates shows some of Geoff Johns ability to wrap bad editorial decisions of the past into storytelling opportunities for today.

In short, in two issues, Gates has managed to give the readers the Supergirl we had in mind when Kara came back to the DCU, explain (in Superman logic) the meandering first 30+ issues of the series, and provide something of a frameework for going forward with supporting characters, antagonists, etc...

All in all, things on Supergirl are looking much better.

-- Posted by: Ryan at November 23, 2008 1:34 AM

I have to agree, Ryan, thanks for mentioning that. I've been a little hesitant to fully recommend, because the stories have not been knock-out fantastic, but I do agree it's worth a look if you've been staying away until now.


-- Posted by: tpull at November 23, 2008 3:33 PM