Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

Birds of Prey 125

by Tony Bedard and Scott McDaniel

The cover of the book conveys the whole theme, which is immediately recognizable as the old plot where a bunch of assassins try to kill the hero, and all are foiled. Last done noticeably in comics when Mark Waid was writing Ruse for CrossGen, it is pared down to its barest basics here, and poorly implemented. I suppose I could nit-pick further and rip apart McDaniel’s rendering of Las Vegas hotels, but just keep this in mind: the first three pages are supposed to be inside one of our casino-hotels, with a fake sky painting to give it an outdoors feel. And all of those assassins have managed to set up machine guns and such inside the casino, while the Birds are maneuvering a functioning car inside as well.

This is sloppy for Bedard as well, because the whole idea is to flush out the Caretaker by dangling a classic car. Then the Caretaker hires every assassin he can to kill the fake person who “outbid” him on the car. The problem? The assassins seem to have no trouble with shooting up the classic car in their attempt to kill the ladies! This is after we find out later in the comic (but earlier in the story chronology) that Caretaker himself said he didn’t “want any stray bullets scratching the paint.” Then they basically have Dinah and Barbara pull a Thelma and Louise routine.

This was a real letdown from most of the previous issues. If this is all they’re going to do as they run out the clock, this series deserves to end quickly. I am fairly certain at this point that McDaniel gets jobs just because he is fast.

Manhunter 37

by Marc Andreyko, Michael Gaydos, Carlos Magno, and Dennis Calero

It gets no better here, because I think this series just jumped the shark. They jump 5 years into the future, and the villains are straight from Sweeney Todd. Have you run out of ideas when your deadly menace was from a movie based on a popular play? Kate’s son is playing super-hero, but they waste our time with old references. The only thing worse is that they waste more of our time making comments about how old the references they just made are. Can I scream now?

The only significant thing is that Ramsey also turns out to be gay, I’m guessing since Judd Winick hasn’t turned anyone out of the closet in the past four months, so DC feels like they’re slipping in their quota. At least they made it a new character, not like when they decided Obsidian was gay. Speaking of him, Obsidian is treated as “Uncle Todd” by this point, and I have no idea how the gay community would treat this, because they have invested considerable time, money, and effort into yelling that just because a family member is gay, you don’t have to worry about him “turning the kids gay.” Here, Uncle Todd has Ramsey as his gay nephew. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this as far as the story goes, but it feels like we are reading the writer’s social agenda instead of a super-hero comic. How about we stop digressing with all the heavy emphasis on gay, and just get back to the super-heroes? It’s like they’re beating us over the head with a hammer about it in this title at this point.

Next, Manhunter gets into Bones' office, easily circumventing security for what should be a place locked up as tight as Fort Knox. Unknown to both Manhunter and Bones, the lady villain has also managed to infiltrate the HQ with no problem whatsoever, except that they wanted it to happen for the plot, which already sucks as it is.

The bottom line is, the series will end with #38, so they let Andreyko do a five-year flash-forward story to wrap things up the way he wanted to, rather than let the series end and have another writer come along later to make their own plans for the character. They should have just done a normal couple of issues, and see if a different writer could make better use of her down the road. They gave Andreyko enough chances, and it just never popped. Now, everything is ending on a very flat note.

Robin 181

by Fabian Nicieza and Freddie Williams II

Nivieza tries to pull all of his threads together as Anarky takes center stage. Tim is hurt, and already doing his best “injured but refusing to rest” impersonation of Bruce, who we now know will be MIA as Batman for a year or more. The story only seems to come to life when Nightwing is around, and falls flat everywhere else. I haven’t been able to care much about any of the other characters all that much, and I suspect some of that is the art. There is no uniqueness or individuality in any of Williams’ drawings, and even long-time favorites like Jim Gordon have no features that make you feel familiarity or connection to them.

Two more issues until this title is cancelled. Is it just me, or is it really hard to write a good ending for a comic series?

Supergirl 36

by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

Man, is Supergirl really going to be the best title in the group so far? Talk about a switch. Part Eight of the New Krypton storyline brings this title firmly into the circle of all of the other Super-titles, including the extra “shield number” on the front to tell you it’s part eight. Kara’s father dies amidst Brainiac’s attack, and the issue is mostly consumed by the actual fight itself, and the funeral and fallout of losing Zor. They also squeeze in an introduction of Superwoman and a couple panels of Flamebird and Nightwing (the Kryptonian one, not Dick Grayson).

For teachers who want to suggest comics are good for children to read, they spell “soldiers” wrong when Allura goes to recruit Zod’s old followers, so don’t show them this comic as an example. It’s not a big thing, but considering there are at least half a dozen people who get paid to proof this thing, PLUS a letterer whose job is, let’s face it, putting the letters down right, it is doubly embarrassing to have words spelled incorrectly in your comic book.

Aside from that nit, this was a solid read, and the series is well-served by having it tie into the Super-titles. As small as the world can be with super powers, it makes a lot more sense for Kara to have a lot of interaction with Superman and others now as opposed to when she is older. There is also a greater sense of purpose that was missing from the title for so long.

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

I agree with your assessment of Supergirl. It's surprising how well Sterling Gates is handling the title despite the fact I don't believe I'd ever heard his name before it was announced he was on the title. Yes, he seems to be quite literally apprenticing under Johns, but that's no guarantee.

After all of the misfires on the title and well-documented excuses regarding why the title shouldn't be under the Superman umbrella, its great to see the title finally beginning to deliver on its promise.

-- Posted by: Ryan at December 21, 2008 11:05 AM