Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part Two

Batman: Battle for the Cowl 3

by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea

I have mixed feelings about this. The two-page splash makes sure to give us a group pose, but not-so-innocently gives us shots of Black Canary and the Huntress that shows off their respective posteriors. For all that emphasis, the Huntress looks like she lost a lot of weight in the back! That kind of cheesecake does not fit in well with the atmosphere of this book, and their prominence only helps to point that out to make the whole shot awkward. Worse, Nightwing puts Huntress in charge. Canary ran the JLA, half of the Outsiders have more leadership experience, Wildcat is one of the older, wiser people present… and Tony Daniel has Nightwing put the Huntress in charge?!? I don’t think so!

Things get better after that, with Damian showing a bit more of the little personality he’s been given so far. It’s weird to see Alfred, who usually tries to protect the youngsters, practically shove Damian out the door. Maybe he’s hoping a little that the little jerk might bite the big one. The real identity of this new Black Mask is not revealed, which feels like this mini-series is now a bit of a cheat, because after all of this setup, the action goes solely to Jason Todd, and not the havoc caused by Black Mask. Plus, having your next big, major villain be Black Mask after you just got rid of the Black Glove is just awful. What’s next, the Black Jockstrap?

Nightwing falls for the electrified cowl and cape trick, which also is bad, because Dick used that trick on someone else in another comic recently. They use some unmentioned dark horror that Jason endured as a youngster on the street, brought up by Bruce’s video testament, to explain why Jason has totally lost it. You know, I don’t care what happened to you when you were young, if you’ve been dead and have successfully been resurrected, I think your childhood trauma should be a little less significant in your mind.

While Daniel’s art is good, he’s not there yet as a storyteller for the writing. Tim Drake has to give a ton of exposition all by his lonesome, just to explain to the reader how he has survived, and the explanation isn’t that great anyway. It means Daniel fabricated the supposed death to have a cliffhanger at the end of issue #2, and it was really an artificial attempt at tension; it didn’t belong in the story, he could have had a much less deadly-looking wound and use the space for something else. To have such a dramatic shot explained away in one or two panels by a guy standing alone in the dark is a big letdown. Did I say I was on the fence about this? The story is lacking in a lot of places.

The ending is one that every single fan in the universe predicted, Nightwing becomes Batman. Duh. For as many nitpicks as I had with this, it’s still not a bad debut for Tony Daniel, his first time at writing. It was just average, though. His artwork goes a lot to make it bearable, where the story elements can’t pass muster.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance 1

by Joe Casey and ChrisCross

Booster Gold move over, here’s some real pose action for you! The Super Young Team gets put up by people with a massive bankroll, intent on making them global superstars. ChrisCross has never impressed me with his drawing of people, but I really dig the equipment and scenery he gives us. Also, the screen name for Most Excellent Superbat, Mosexbat, is amusing.

Much of the action is not that interesting, while a lot of time is taken up reading Superbat’s Twitter equivalents, with Joe Casey importing his computer commentary style from the Intimates, his title at Wildstorm. It’s current, but I’m not sure if I like it for the format of a comic book. I give him props for experimenting with it again, though.

The overall plot is a little confusing. Japan is messed up after the Final Crisis, and wants to divert attention by having the world focus on this super-team? Why not use all the moola they just spent on an atmospheric headquarters and just repair Tokyo? And how do you block out the world’s attention from an entire country by telling them to look at five capes? The storytelling is more obtuse right now for these Aftermath titles than Final Crisis was itself. I don’t know if I want to buy into this for six whole issues. I’ll try #2 and see if anything improves.

Superman/Batman 60

by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Francis Manapul

Gotham and Metropolis have been combined into Gothamopolis, for an issue appropriately titled, “Mash-up.” Several of the team Green & Johnson have touched on this mash-up theme, but here they go for broke, combining members of the Titans and JLA into composite characters, many of which are interesting. They do settle for the obligatory cliché misunderstanding fight scene, but it’s fun in this case. (The composite villain Doomstroke sounds slightly perverted, though.)

Francis Manapul is not my favorite artist, but I didn’t mind his style at all. For a setting like this alternate mash-up, his style fits the atmosphere very well, better than a “straight-forward” title like the Legion. The inks could be better, though, a sign that makes me go back to the credits at the front of the book…. Yup, Manapul did his own inks, that was a mistake. The coloring choices are a little odd too, but it’s possible they did it on purpose to emphasize the altered world. The final scene is awesome: Lex Joker!

For a title that could be a great banner title for DC, this is one that still falls a little short, but I find myself enjoying the creative attempts, and it seems like a fun toss-back to the golden age. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I have found this to be a fun series lately.

Trinity 51

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

The world is coming back together slowly from the perspective of the Worldsoul, but the havoc is causing great distress when you look closer, in a clever idea from Busiek to show the difference a matter of scale can make to the human experience. Some people who were dead are coming over from the alternate dimension, much like Hawkeye from House of M over in Marvel. John Stewart is finally free from the Void Hound, and it might be interesting to see it again sometime, reflecting what it has learned from its struggle. Maybe he’ll show up next issue. Or maybe he’s already combined with the sphere. Firestorm shows up to see John, giving them more interaction and reinforcing the relationship developing between the two of them.

The villains turn on each other, only to unite when the heroes close in. Krona moves from pleading one second to rage the next, trying anything that might work to get as much power as he can. The trinity expend the last of their cosmic energy, and look haggard and worn, just as the Crime Syndicate steps in to clean up the pieces. Whoops!

The art is great throughout, and you know the good guys will overcome this final challenge. But after all this time and emphasis on how important these three are… they’ll be split up after this. So for an endpoint of irony, after establishing how crucial these guys are, after next issue we will return to the main DCU, where Bruce is lost in time, Superman is off on another planet, and only Wonder Woman is minding the store on Earth. Is that really the best setting for these characters after ending such a cool setup like Trinity? Publishing choices aside, the story itself here is great.

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