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Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Okay, no Marvel reviews this week, because I had to go out of town, but here's all of the mini-series and specials from DC:

Batman: Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon 1

by Royal McGraw and Tom Mandrake

Man, is that a lot of colons to use for a series title! Luckily they settled on leaving out the whole Bat-Battle-Cowl bit for the Oracle book, or she would have beaten out Gordon for the colon prize this month. Tom Mandrake is in good form with nice choices for dramatic scenes, overhead city shots, and a somewhat oppressive Gotham City, more so than usual in the absence of its normal protector.

The story is not bad, but it hits a limitation that the editor should have stopped: the helplessness of Jim Gordon. Rucka and company spent a lot of time in the Gotham Central series putting a face on many of the detectives and showing exactly how the Gotham P.D. coped with a presence like Batman, and how to handle the larger-than-life menaces as an everyday occurrence. I understand they wanted to quickly portray a city in need without its primary defender, but they go overboard in Gordon’s wallowing that the police never did any good on their own. It’s one note that is hit too hard, too often, and people that know Gordon’s character will feel how “off” it is.

The story still works, but it plays a little heavy-handed into the cliché of “I need a crisis to remind me of my calling, and to fight against all the odds for right.” A little more subtlety would have actually carried the story a lot further, but this is a decent one-shot overall.

Oracle: The Cure1

by Kevin Vanhook, Julian Lopez, and Fernando Pasarin

I’m divided on the opening scenes of this comic, because on one hand, I really like that Barbara is doing everything on her own (while Nightwing shows why everyone calls him Dick, using the JSA as his moving boys over in his title). However, the somewhat-salacious shower scene was lingering on one aspect of her wheelchair-bound life just a tad too much for taste. As much as I’m a red-blooded American guy, I do have to admit I’ve already seen my fill of big-busted comic ladies every week just walking past the Independent rack at the store.

Commissioner Gordon is already doing better here than he was in his one-shot, listing the multitude of problems facing his police force, but already showing enough confidence in his people to take one night off the job. He is also more understanding than I would be when his daughter fails to pay him even the slightest bit of attention at dinner.

The writing isn’t perfect, with too many mentions of how her legs still “hurt sometimes” in one issue; most times we get that sense of repetition from the recap page of the next month’s issue. There are a ton of gems throughout this story, though, with remnants of the anti-life equation showing up on the net, the Calculator doing some good old-fashioned social engineering (who says nerdy computer hacks can get along in social situations?), and an online game representation, which Oracle should really be more familiar with already, if we’re being honest about her status as someone who is supposed to be up to speed in all things digital. The ending is a little gruesome, but it’s a fun read, so I would recommend this mini-series over a lot of others out there right now.

Top 10 Season Two Special #1

by Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon, and Daxiong

After seeing Gene Ha at work on art duties for this title for so long, this doesn’t feel quite the same, but it’s still pretty good. The great range of character types is on display in the vast milieu that makes up the Top Ten universe, even if they do include some too-obvious allusions to other comic characters throughout this one-shot special.

Li Sung is making an attempt at something different than the original role of her predecessor, and still hanging out with Pete. How much of this is individuality, and how much is due to programming? It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. The procedural aspect of a television series feels appropriate here, with Sung uncovering the truth behind her legal case, and a dollop of interpersonal relationships thrown in for good measure.

Good stuff. Also, neat to see Harvey Bridman, Attorney at Law, on the cover. Not all of the Easter Eggs were over the top.

Trinity 43

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

Krona is taking the next step in his quest for fulfillment, and he has settled on Earth as his best chance for a quick evolution. Even though the trinity traded places with his status back on his planet, Krona is finding it hard to digest exactly what is happening, with the unchanged-trinity operating on a mostly-normal Earth, as everything else is being changed back to what it should be.

Just when you think enough is going on, Kanjar Ro shows up with Despero and the Crime Syndicate in tow. There aren’t a lot of issues left for this series, but they are still managing to toss in a ton of stuff to cover. Notably, Tomorrow Woman has still managed to stay around a while longer, which is a pleasant surprise. A special kudos to the scene with Perry to Olsen: “You couldn’t get this shot?” Olsen: “Chief, they were ten miles in the sky!”

The twist at the end has the friends and family of the big three assembled again, trying to convince these guys they should be “normal” again too. The response is not what any of them expected, as the big three are busy molding the world the way it should be… with those three as gods?!? Mix surprise with awe, with more than a little fear, because what is scarier than watching capable friends who usually succeed at what they want, with enough power to accomplish a goal that just set all your back hairs up on end? These three are tough enough to stop when they are their normal selves! Guaranteed Nightwing is running through a dozen scenarios in his mind on how to stop them, and they are all coming up short.

Excellent writing, art quality as high now as with the first issue, and out on time every week. What’s not to love?
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.