Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Madame Xanadu 8

by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley

The good Madame is trying to stop Jack the Ripper, but the Phantom Stranger is in her way. Filling more of a position equal to a meddlesome Watcher at first, he conveniently shows up in her face at every turn, even in her travels on a more mystical plane. Hadley’s art is delightfully free of tight lines on the faces, which seems to match the series perfectly. Would I like to se the same rendition of other super heroes? Probably not, but the effects and the surroundings are all well done.

What is interesting is that the Phantom Stranger seems content to let events play out… up to a point. Unfortunately, that point always seems to be AFTER letting the main character experience failure and frustration (insert your favorite joke about how that describes the end of every date I have with a girl here). As opposed to the normal mysterious non-explanations he leaves her with, the Stranger this time lets her know that Etrigan fathered a child, and the Ripper killed the woman who was carrying the demonspawn. Which means we are back to Madame Xanadu helping to let Etrigan loose in the first place. Whoopsie.

This is the type of story about destiny that raises all sorts of irritating but fun questions. Is the main character destined to fail in all her efforts? Then why did the Stranger appear to her and offer advice? Does his intervention steer events so they happen in just the way he desires to maintain his precious balance? And if so, is this really destiny, or just his machinations, combined with his ability to foretell outcomes better than we could? I have no idea, but it’s always interesting to ask.

This series is one of those outliers that I took a chance on, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I almost wish we could move Wagner (and maybe Hedley too) over to Wonder Woman and see what they could do with her.

Reign in Hell 8

by Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick

The final issue of this event series felt a little lackluster, but the cool thing is that I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen with each character. To be honest, they have messed Dr. Fate up so much, it’s hard to like the character he now is, as I can’t determine if he really has a connection with the original Kent Nelson or not. I want him back in the JSA. Sienkowicz’s inks on top of Derenick’s pencils helps to create a brooding atmosphere, full of barely-contained menace, which serves the story well.

Some of the tension was forced, as the many magical personalities all seemed to argue and disagree to the point of tedium, but the setup with Satanus and Black Alice paved the way for a predictable backstabbing by Lady Blaze. Predictable, but still fun! The end result is that we appear to be down one Sargon, a newbie that did not impress me much. There was an interesting scene with Blue Devil, Zauriel and (it took me forever to remember) Etrigan that makes you wonder exactly what the choice was, and which one Blue Devil chose.

This series leads conveniently into an epilogue tale of sorts in my next review title, Teen Titans. I’m not sure if DC has done enough to set the stage for a continuing series, like Marvel managed to do for Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy for their cosmic adventures, but the seeds have been sown to make for some interesting stories to tell throughout the rest of the DCU.

I dub this trade-worthy!

Teen Titans 68

by Sean McKeever and Eddy Barrows

Eddy Barrows definitely has his moments. His characters can be a tad better drawn, but you can tell he had fun drawing “Hell.” We learn a little about Kid Eternity as he takes Eddie down to the nether realms in search of either his powers or a way out of his contract. For whatever reason, Eddie appears to be a pretty stupid teenager. Kid eternity stops him from making a deal with the new ruler of Hell, Lady Blaze. There’s a bit of confusion during Kid Eternity’s conversation with Sister Sentry, and I’m not sure if she was really there, or if she turned into a sorrowling. So I could use a little bit more explanation as to what happened there.

This tale is a good stand-alone story, but the title is still drifting a little. With such a dramatic shake-up in their team roster, it doesn’t feel much like it has enough ties to the rest of the Titans family. Blue Beetle has a place here, since his title was just canceled, so Ryan should be happy with that a little. But are they just a group that hangs out now? Will they be getting more guidance from the older Titans? What ties actually hold them together now? These are the fundamental things that need to be sorted out, before the title sheds more readers.

Trinity 39

by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher

It’s the final stand in Metropolis for the whole ball of wax! Unlike other showdowns, the heroes receive confirmation that they are doomed no matter what: these are not the people who can stop impending catastrophe. We switch artists in the middle to focus on Konvikt, but Graak disagrees with the whole plan. Graak may be mischievous, but he draws the line at pure evil!

Back in the main battle, the Joker plays the wild card and tilts the balance, and all seems lost. It is not immediately obvious from the battle scenes themselves which side is winning, so we have to depend on the narrative text to give us an idea. At the end, the three bigwigs appear! They are still altered, not their true selves yet. Does this issue count as our heroes returning? Or do we have to have them for a full issue fighting on the side of good? Because if that is it, then my prediction for their return at issue #40 would be correct! Not that I’d win a prize or anything. Either way, we now start the countdown to determine which issue our trinity gains their old, true forms back. I call dibs on #43!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.