Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review

Gotham Gazette 1

by Fabian Nicieza and various

The headline is “Batman Dead?” This is billed as a one-shot on the cover, but in the next issue box at the end, it plugs Gotham Gazette #2. DC needs to get its indicia straight and figure out when things are really one-shots, or part of a mini-series. Is this hard for them to figure out? The issue is basically five vignettes, featuring the Veil, Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Leslie Thompkins, and Harvey Bullock. The art for each one is by Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, ChrisCross, Jamie McKelvie, and Alex Konat and Mark Mckenna respectively, the last two teaming up for the Bullock story.

The stories aren’t must-haves, and they serve mostly as placeholders to show the supporting characters of the Bat-universe, because Morrison left a lot of them dangling while setting up his R.I.P. stuff. I can only hope that Vale will be more of a regular, unless they brought her back just for this little bit. The most interesting story is that of Bullock, and the sight of Leslie Thompkins still leaves me with mixed emotions, considering the butchering of her character a while back. Chuck Dixon tried to undo the bad stuff as much as possible, so you sort of just have to try to forget what has come before and let her story carry you along.

Collector fanboys who simply must have all parts of a comic event will get this, but it’s not essential. If you’ve got money to spare, it’s worth a look.

Secret Six 7

by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott

The continual mixing of violence and humor attempts does not work well, and even the cover tries to convey the silliness and tongue-in-cheek nature of this group. Considering all of the Six are supposed to be hardened killers, this is a mistake. Simone should have either gone all-silly, a la Keith Giffen with the Justice League, or deep into the darkness, a la John Ostrander with Suicide Squad. The melding of the two just doesn’t work.

Deadshot’s bullet to Scandal’s head turns out to be much less lethal than they made it appear the previous issue, which is a cheat. The car chase scene that takes up two pages is reminiscent of a movie with a gag reel sound playing, and also ruins any attempt at a stable mod with which to read the issue. Next, Deadshot inexplicably, finally, lets Tarantula out of her handcuffs, only to let her know he is delivering her to her doom. The innuendo is funny, and one of the few redeeming parts of the entire book.

We are supposed to believe Batman set up the other heroes to observe the carnage, but they do not rush in to separate the combatants. Everyone gets to go crazy and attack each other, with Catman and Deadshot going from being at each other’s throats in one second, to talking about what a “kind of” pleasure it was to know each other a few pages later. It makes zero sense, and there are no people on this planet that would switch loyalties and feelings toward someone who had tried to kill him in such a short time frame. All internal logic and consistency with the characters has vanished except for the mind-numbing stupidity of Mammoth, which is exaggerated to the point that he is out of character.

Nobody bothers to identify any of the villains any more, so you’re on your own figuring out who everyone is. Rag Doll’s sister is on crutches, yet easily throws a guy over a bridge in one second, then leans on the crutches the next. Bane has three good panels, only so Simone could revert him back to his drug-dependent self, and having an IQ only slightly higher than Mammoth. THEN the heroes join in. Then Deadshot tells Tarantula to run, for no discernible reason.

In the middle of all of this, one of the villains confesses he doesn’t know everybody, and actually asks Deadshot if his group is still supposed to kill him?!? That might as well be one of the readers at this point. Who knows why anybody is doing anything at this stage? Tarantula, who was sort-of kind-of on the side of the angels for a while, sacrifices her life for the group that was going to deliver her to her death. All of the other assembled villains, taking a cue from Mammoth, stupidly incinerate Rag Doll’s sister and Tarantula, thinking they have the card. Excuse me, but since everybody wanted that card, why would every one of them simultaneously decide to risk destroying it?

The Mad Hatter goes off a bridge, which should kill any regular person, but we all know he will appear alive somewhere else, with no explanation, because they can’t be bothered any more. Finally, after the card is believed to be destroyed, and the big bad villain (that everybody and their dog was supposed to be too afraid to cross) is dead, the heroes have all mysteriously disappeared, and the two villain groups magically stop fighting.

I know Simone has a fan base, and I know they love her dialogue. I also know they like the gratuitous violence that allegedly gives this title its edge. For me, the story is incredibly murky, and I could use someone to take me through every issue to explain each character’s respective motivation, because they change all over the place. The gratuitous sex and violence is still too pretty under Scott’s art, and ruins any chance of creating a valid identity for the title.

I’m not sure if this title will last another full year.

Strange Adventures 1

by Jim Starlin and Manuel Garcia

Starlin has managed to get his cosmic corner of the DCU another eight-issue mini-series, and Manuel Garcia is a good choice for the art chores. Veteran Al Milgrom does the inking, and the final product is great. We’re mostly starting out with the characters split up again, with one focus on Adam Strange and the heroes in his periphery, and the other focus on Captain Comet.

Starlin does the art for a backup story that involves Synnar again, as he attempts to recruit Bizarro to be a fill-in member for the Aberrant Six. Hey, maybe that should be the name for the Secret Six! It’s a mildly interesting start, and hopefully there will be enough new things to keep this from melding into Starlin’s typical plots, which often have a tendency to repeat.

Terror Titans 6

by Sean McKeever and Joe Bennett

Much like the Secret Six, we have a group of super-powered crazies loose causing havoc, but it wraps up quick. The Star-Spangled Kid is someone in disguise, and the disguise comes off. Now, I’ll avoid the spoiling here, and I’ve been really good about not casting any aspersions on this character that could seemingly take out opponents with much larger powers, so hopefully the reveal catches a couple readers by surprise.

The conclusion falls a little flat, as Clock King decides to murder the Disruptor, without much of an excuse. The remaining three villains make a showdown of it, only to quickly get arrested, and the series ends with them breaking out and running loose. The series failed in two ways for me. One, the Clock King’s motivation of boredom was lame and unrealistic, and we deserved better. Two, I never was able to feel any emotion for these third-string Terror villains, and that’s a definite failure in the writing. They should have been handled in a different manner, so if there was a redeeming trait, we might get to see it. It’s really just a bunch of crooks I’d rather see left in jail. I still want to keep my Persuader appearances in the future with the Legion.


by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Fabian Nicieza, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

The title of this issue is “Returned,” and they stress it again in the narrative, so I guess my initial prediction of the return of these characters in full force by issue 40 was correct. It is important to note, however, that they still resemble their cosmically-powerful forms, not their original forms. Bagley gives us a two-page spread that makes everybody look awesome. The assembled heroes and villains become absorbed in a sense so the big three on each side can use their energies in the struggle, and the tide finally turns in the favor of the heroes.

The backup tale brings Krona back to the center stage, and we see him confront his past self. It’s over quickly, so it will be until next week that we get to see how he is planning to get back to the role he filled as controller of his very own planet.

Only 12 issues left, so expect things to come fast and furious now!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.