Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

Thanksgiving has put me a little behind schedule, but a bunch of turkey isn’t going to stop me from getting you your valuable comics intel! Here’s the first batch:

Birds of Prey 124

by Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

The Silicon Syndicate comes out in force to tackle the Birds of Prey, and the re-animated Gizmo just happens to have an ectotheric disruptor to hurt Infinity. Oracle has called in the cavalry, and Black Canary shows up with Green Arrow and Speedy in tow, plus Manhunter, to even the odds. This is all just a sideshow to the main event, though, as the Joker shows up for a rematch with Barbara Gordon.

I wish I could say it was brilliant, but the Joker fires his gun from a few feet away, and Barbara, in her wheelchair, successfully ducks at least four bullets. Then Joker gets mad and comes close enough for her to knock the gun out of his hand. It just doesn’t pass the “come on, really?” test. One of the harder jobs a writer has is to take all of the suspense and action from the beginning and middle of a story, and bring everything closing down in a good ending that has substance and believability. There are novels like Grisham’s The Firm that I enjoyed reading, only to have a flat ending. This one feels a little flat from a lackluster encounter between Oracle and Joker. Only a few more issues until this title is canceled as part of DC’s shuffling things around for Batman’s disappearance.

Legion of Super-Heroes 48

by Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul

Here is another title that I am sure will be canceled soon. It’s a shame that DC can’t stick with a concept, as this issue was my favorite of Jim Shooter’s run. They give us some Legion tryouts, they start a new version of the Substitute Heroes, and Sun Boy returns. Manapul’s art was never a strong suit for the book, but it looks like he’s trying. Also, Brainiac 5 comes to a conclusion about the aliens that makes for an interesting idea.

In an interview, Shooter had mentioned how his original 16-issue saga got chopped down by a number of issues, and other problems that plagued this title over the past few months, but in the end he admitted he had to take some responsibility for the failure of the book. It sounds like half of DC feels there has to be a Super-somebody associated with the book, which is not necessarily the case; there are a number of concepts that would work well, and Superman or another super could be involved while still focusing on the rest of the Legion. Or, the Legion could stay in the future apart from the Super bunch just as easily. It’s all in the execution.

My prescription? A decent artist and a new writer, and you’ve got three Legions to choose from right now, so how about three mini-series in a row, one after another visiting each alternate Legion team? I’m pretty sure they won’t do that, but I am confident they will keep trying. The Legion used to have magic, and one of DC’s biggest stumbling blocks in the last twenty years has been their inability to let these characters shine. Yet hope springs eternal…

Superman 682

by James Robinson and Renato Guedes

Robinson shows my favorite scene so far in his run on this title, with an appearance of Bizarro at Jonathan Kent’s grave site. Guedes does a good job throughout, showing us the Oval Office, New Krytpon, Science Police Headquarters, and other sights as the story brings in Agent Liberty, the clone Guardian, and an organized raid on Superman’s rogues gallery. I can’t help but think back to the old days when the artist would have shown about six of the villains being rounded up in one page, whereas here they take an entire page to show the capture of each one.

All of the villains are shunted into the Phantom Zone to pester Mon-el, while Superman busts in with an awesome entrance to confront Kara’s parents about their tactics. It gets interesting when some policeman are killed on one of the raids, and Allura already knows! So there are divisions within divisions as far as what these Kryptonians want to do on this planet, and to what lengths each is willing to go to accomplish their agendas. What makes no sense, however, is that Allura expresses no problem with law enforcers being killed when they haven’t even killed the villains themselves. If the villains were only being imprisoned within the Zone, then why in the world wouldn’t they have just brushed aside the humans without killing them? It’s the only prickly part in an otherwise excellent issue. I am very happy to see this quality in the series, and it is a big step up form the first four or five issues of Robinson’s run on this title.

Teen Titans 65

by Sean McKeever and Eddy Barrows

The first thing that grabs my attention on this issue is the art. It’s really good! I think I have to give some props to the inker, Ruy Jose, but Barrows is improving a little each time, and I can see how he might become one of my favorites some day, especially if he gets better at drawing backgrounds.

The story is not bad, but does have some shortfalls. Lycos goes after Cassie, with the big monster dog distracting the rest of the team. Defeating the dog just sends all of that power back into Lycos. The lacking part comes when Cassie magically appears at full strength with a brand new costume. Evidently after Lycos drained her of Ares’ powers, somehow allowing her to come into her own rightful strength, which appears to be the exact same powers she had before. McKeever would do well to explain things better, and to quantify her powers in some way in the immediate future; Robin will most certainly want to know what her capabilities and limitations are. Overall, a great effort.

Wonder Woman 26

by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti

The Olympian deities return, and Director Steel catches Nemesis holding hands (!) with Wonder Woman and puts him under arrest. Nemesis escapes immediately, but he is always still depicted as a young studly man, which is a big difference form the older wise spy that we know and love. I can’t wait until this love plot goes by the wayside, because it’s a big waste of space. DC needs to be convincing us Wonder Woman is equal to the other big two and justify placing her in the Trinity, not having her hold hands and trade smooches with someone who should be a professional undercover operative.

A new villain, lamely enough called Genocide, knocks out Wonder Woman and steals her lasso. The character design is derivative of things I have seen many times before, which only tells me that a couple people on the creative team play City of Heroes online. This is the equivalent of the first Doomsday story, only condensed into one issue (thankfully!), and instead of killing the hero, he steals her lasso. Still nothing very exciting, but it was readable. I give it a ‘C.’ Which means we’re in countdown mode until DC cancels the title and re-launches it again in the future. (Hmm, are we sensing a pattern here with all of these ideas of canceling titles?)

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