Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part One

The Brave And The Bold 22

by David Hine and Doug Braithwaite

The final part of Hine’s story takes place on both the physical and the mental plane. Braithwaite’s pencils seem halfway between “regular” comic art and painting, and I find myself slowing down to examine the effect more and more; sometimes it reminds me of the rotoscoping effect, a la Scanner Darkly. The pacing is great, with Green Arrow leaping out of the fourth page looking like the exciting finish of a movie, but instead of showing us all of the steps, they show some intense action in only four panels that effectively sums up something that another creative team might have spent five or ten pages to cover. (I suspect that Green Arrow is a favorite for Braithwaite to draw.)

The alien is hiding in Jordan, just as the previous issue intimated, and the Phantom Stranger knew all along. The ideologies and the action sequences are excellent, and this entire issue flows faster than the first three combined. The ending clinches it, and makes this arc one that I heartily recommend.

Next issue brings us Michael Straczynski, Batman, and Dial ‘H’ for Hero. I am SO there!

Justice League of America 30

by Dwayne McDuffie and Jose Luis

The cover of the JLA makes me stop and think about the central three, and how there are successors to all of the others. Think about it: Flash is Wally in place of Barry; we have John in place of Hal; Kendra is in place of Carter; and Roy in place of Ollie. Inside, I enjoyed Jose Luis’ pencils the entire way through.

The Shadow Thief has found power, and he’s not afraid to use it. Instead of the tons of talking that has been going on of late, we get some decent action sequences. Too much of Marvel and DC has gone the way of talking that I actually relish a good action sequence like a long-lost friend. I’m sure the pendulum will swing the other way before too much longer, and I will be complaining about all of the smash!, and lamenting the days when the heroes used to talk to each other a little.

There are some nice developments in this one issue, with the good Doctor Light’s powers restored, the Shadow Thief getting a neat upgrade to his power, however temporarily, and a somewhat satisfactory conclusion to the participation of the Shadow Cabinet. The details could use improvement, as the Flash has rips and tears all over his costume that vary from one panel to the next. In fact, from one page to the next, he suddenly appears in a fresh, new, untorn costume! I’m sure he just changed off-panel, right? I mean, it’s important to get a new costume before you even make sure the main villain is defeated, yes? Have to look good for the cameras later, after all.

Those little tidbits aside, I enjoyed this issue the best of McDuffie’s run so far, and I hope he’s this good from here on out. The backup tale speaks of betrayal, but the story actually focuses on Roy and Kendra’s relationship problems, which I find more irritating than prophetic. For the most part, I’m still finding the Origins & Omens section to be useless.

Outsiders 15

by Peter Tomasi and Lee Garbett

No Batman, and we should just forget that whole Batgirl/Nightwing version of Outsiders, I guess. The Special showed us the new cast, and Alfred steps up to be the new leader of the team. His explanation for the formation of the Outsiders is so that there would be a Batman-like presence for the rest of the world, outside Gotham. It’s a little weak, but the issue was still fairly good.

Garbett makes the most of the massive talking scenes, rotating the angles and giving us different poses. The Owlman is the new character, and represents the detective aspect of Batman. I’m not sure what the Creeper represents, but he’s being derived in a kind of Ragdoll-crazy, Plastic Man-silly way that strikes me as a bit off, and I hope they get back to portraying him as he traditionally behaves.

The interactions of the characters themselves feel mostly natural otherwise, although the spark between Geo-Force and Katanna comes from out of nowhere. I have noticed a ton more attempts by writers in modern times to inject romance between characters that really have no business linking up, other than the fact that the writer felt a relationship in the comic would add something. It’s getting old, whether it’s Chuck Austen doing strange things to the X-Men, or Hawkgirl suddenly going ga-ga over Roy in JLA. I feel like they could cover a lot more ground for the rest of the story and character development if the writers didn’t consistently try to force a bunch of new love duos/triangles into their comics.

There is an evil force gathering, and it is made up of a single mastermind that turns out to have been behind almost every villain that the original Outsiders team faced years ago. How Batman found out about this threat and pieced everything together, and why this major evil force has been lying low all these years is a mystery, and it feels rather contrived and forced at this stage, but I will try to keep an open mind.

Considering the schizoid nature of this title for the past few years, this is about as good a reboot as they have had, really, since Winick first started out with them. I’ll give them a try. Origins & Omens is wearing thin fast, though. Scar predicts “they will fight and die in this war.” Somehow, I don’t expect any of these people to die at all.

Supergirl 38

by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

A lackluster cover, but fun art inside, with Superwoman trying to keep Kara off of Earth, but called off to go after Reactron before she can finish the job with Supergirl. Gates squeezes in a rapid succession of scene changes that all serve to move us a little bit further along in the story, and in a way that kept the flow, which is not always easy. The surprise immunity of Superwoman to gold kryptonite at the end is cool, and I have to say that they are succeeding in piquing my interest a little at this new addition to the Super cast.

As mentioned before, it is refreshing to see something of substance and direction being done with Supergirl, and tying her in to the rest of the Super titles may have been precisely what was needed all along. This title has gone from on the edge of me dropping it to a very strong middle-of-the-pack title in just a couple issues.

Superman/Batman 55

by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Rags Morales

Holy lateness, DC! Issue 53 came out in October, 54 came out in December, and this issue comes out in February?!? This was not one of those captivating titles that made me irritated for it not being out on a monthly basis. It’s not like I threw a fit (or even noticed at first) when the next issue failed to come out on time. But my subconscious noticed, and kept track of things as it always does, and the presence of this latest issue on the stands made me exclaim right away about how incredibly bad this issue was for being late. I can only imagine the lousy impact on its sales.

The story itself was enjoyable, with Batman exploring his new powers, and Clark learning the hard way exactly how human he is right now. Rags has great art as usual, and the pieces of character that are revealed are actually very insightful by the writers. Batman gains a new perspective on how to use Superman’s powers… to incite fear in criminals. Batman has a -ahem- different perspective, shall we say, on Kal-el’s use/non-use of his powers this whole time. Also, Nightwing’s realization that Bruce had been fighting in darkness the entire time, and his solar-based powers might be weakened was a fantabulous idea.

It’s a shame, because I really enjoyed the story. I have no idea how few people will be around to read the next part if it takes two entire months to put the next issue out. I suspect it will be shedding a couple thousand readers every time.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

The only issue of this list I have is JLA and we could not have had a more different reaction.

I thought the issue was atrocious. Hawkman was the only character to come off with any depth and that's being generous. McDuffy set up a great subtext with the "dark nature" of the JLA in their shadows and an even more interesting one with the Shadow Cabinet, who with their less than stellar morals could really have been shown to be degenerates. Nevermind the fact that we could have seen a shadowy power ring or lasso at work doing something, at least we could have explored in a few panels what made these shadows a darker reflection of the heroes. Instead we get a lackluster punchfest where EVERY SINGLE hero comes out on top. *yawn*

Superman and Icon's conversation was a bunch of posturing and I still don't understand what happened to Dr. Light or why her suit was rebuilt or why she allowed the Shadow Cabinet to help her in the first place. And don't get me started on the Hawkgirl/Red Arrow romance - it feels forced and I just don't care.

While the line "he outran his shadow" is cool, it was a glaring example of the amateur artwork at play in this issue since the panel didn't show anything of the sort.

This is actually the issue that does it for me. I've decided to drop this book (#31 is already ordered but it will be the last). It will be the first time I will not buy a JLA book since I came back to comics in 1996. I don't know what this book is about but it is not about the Justice League of America.

-- Posted by: David at February 24, 2009 10:50 AM