Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Man, combine a week-long business trip and catching the stomach flu in the middle of it and it gets hard to put up the reviews early! Now that my cough medicine has worn off and I’m not so woozy, let me whip these out quickly, comic fans!

Detective Comics 855

by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Batwoman tries her best to get Alice away from the rest of the goons and disarm her, but the woman is just crazy enough to hide a poisoned razor blade inside her mouth, and one scratch is all it takes to send Kate into seeing hallucinations. Alice herself reunites with her minions only to shoot them all, supposedly for allowing her to get captured in the first place.

Williams continues the interesting panel separations, and in certain places it can actually give off a cinematic feel, and you almost wish you could listen to the soundtrack that should go along with the entire issue. One action shot looks out of place, though. When Alice and yet more goons catch up to Kate and her father, we see someone kick the gun out of the Colonel’s hand, but in the next four panels, that attacker doesn't try to do anything else, and the Colonel is holding his gun the entire time. So I’m not sure what happened there, but it reads horribly. Granted, he’s holding a different type of weapon next, so the reader can figure out he pulled out a backup piece, but where did the attacker go? Did he just want to kick the one weapon out and then stop? It makes no sense. We don’t get to see him pull out the new piece, and it’s very disruptive to the reading flow.

Rucka and Cully Hamner give us more of the Question in the second feature, a very short, simplistic fight scene without much else to it. Yet again we have another “hero” choking a guy and asking the crook to answer her questions. It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t already seen the same scene in two or three other comics in the last two weeks. And for all of Renee’s subterfuge, a giant of a man gets the drop on her with a taser. He literally appears from out of nowhere. I didn’t find anything in here to grab me, and I think it shows how the second feature is going to be hit-or-miss, depending on what the creative team can make out of eight pages.

Justice League of America 35

by Len Wein, Tom Derenick, and Pow Rodrix

One of the fan-favorites is back for a story arc, and Len Wein takes us on a fun journey. The Royal Flush Gang is back, and naturally they hit Las Vegas. Wein is a master of pacing, showing us some action, then having a relatively quiet scene between Firestorm and Vixen. The ad hoc team that assembles includes Plastic Man, and it’s fun to see him again and delight in the forms he can take.

The art is as good as it has ever been, and the choices for displaying the activity are all good. Plastic Man’s “target” attack is funny, and the Red tornado makes a mistake, much in line with the old days in which Reddy meant well, but always seemed to screw something up. They also do much better in a small space to explain how Vixen’s powers work. The one slightly off-kilter part of the story is that when Reddy makes all the money fly, the hostages all forget they are in deadly danger and go leaping for the bills. I know if I’m ever being held at gunpoint, I don’t care if five million dollars drops into my lap, I’ll be keeping my eyes glued to the guy pointing the gun at me. Still, this looks to be an entertaining fill-in story until the new permanent creative team takes over.

Justice Society of America 29

by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, and Jesus Merino

Speaking of new creative teams, I have a quibble with the first page: if you have already presented us with a group shot on the cover, why have yet another group pose on the first page? It’s redundant, and it looks fake. Maybe if we were in Russia or somewhere else they might be standing that close together naturally, but Americans tend to prize their own personal space. Which is my way of saying they need to showcase these characters in a natural way, not have such artificial group poses for something as ordinary as a discussion. They have another group shot when they go to rescue hostages, and it works much better there.

There are mysteries galore, starting with the discovery that Obsidian has turned into a small black egg, and a big group of villains who have decided to take out the JSA. The fight scenes are fun, despite my wondering how Mammoth gets here in the middle of his adventures with his sister in the Teen Titans magazine. What’s weird is that the villains seem to have come prepared to pick off the heroes in a way that targets their weaknesses, but this veteran team can’t seem to use any teamwork at all. It makes the overall fight seem one-sided, which should not be the case.

I could probably write three entire paragraphs to explain how seasoned veterans, even when caught off-guard, still have some tricks up their sleeve, but for the purposes of the plot, the team had to fail here. I just think it could have been displayed in a way that didn’t portray the entire team as a bunch of amateur push-overs. That part aside, there’s another mystery with the possession of the All-American Kid, and some drama at the end with a stabbing. The one area where I have no complaints is in the art. Merino is in good form, and the inks and coloring are top notch too. Not a bad start for the new team, it will be good to see how they build on this.

Superman 690

by James Robinson and Pere Perez

Almost half of this issue is Atlas fighting Steel, and at least one of the pages could have been used for something else. I also have to wonder about the ‘mission accomplished’ bit, because I was under the impression they wanted to kill Steel, and instead they just knock him out and take him prisoner. So unless I misread the earlier issues, they are not being consistent with their stated aims. Then we are presented with a returned Mark Merlin to help Zatarra fight off the Parasite. Mark Merlin is a little-used character associated with Prince Ra Man, and the continuity problems with them have yet to be explained.

I’m mixed about this issue, because the art was okay, but it seemed like a bunch of sub-plots, with the main plot being just a slugfest. Mon-el was supposed to be the new star of the book in Superman’s absence, but we didn’t get to see him in costume even. Hopefully this will all pay off, but it’s taking a long time to set everything up properly, and the issue is not that big a deal. Perhaps this was necessary for the overall story, but I tend to want something cool each month, and this felt more like a holding pattern.

Teen Titans 73

by Bryan Miller and Joe Bennett

We start off this issue just like the last issue, in front of a coffin. This is supposed to remind us that somebody is going to die at the end of the story arc, but by showing us what they do, they have already ruled out Wonder Girl and Miss Martian. That doesn’t leave too many choices left, but they commit the same error here as they did last issue: they show us a coffin, and then it plays no more a part of the rest of the issue. It dilutes the effect, and we just kind of shrug our shoulders and read on. Is anyone out there feeling a big deal of suspense over who the casualty might be?

Joe Bennett is back on pencils, and looking good. I actually feel bad for him, because I think he needs a bigger story to suit his style. He packs a big punch in the space available to him, but the writing lets him down. For example, when an emergency occurs, the team stands around talking instead of running to rescue Wonder Girl. In those precious seconds, she could have been killed. They could have had the same conversation while running to the crime scene, but they just stood around pretending none were worthy to lead?!? That’s just a waste of space. The final page, where we get to see the new configuration of the Fearsome Five, is awesome.

Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar give us the second feature, and Ravager wakes up being treated for her injuries, with a warning to stop using epinephrine, or it will kill her. The story loses cohesion fast, with the bartender instantly knowing all about her connection to the Teen Titans, her own code name, who her father is, her real name, etc. If I were in her shoes, I might have attacked him just for being a bartender in a snowy wasteland that could somehow know all that stuff. Instead, Rose just goes along with his offer of a place to stay.

Wait, it gets worse. The same bartender, who could have killed her when she was unconscious, radios to a wet works team and says they can “kill her now.” ?!?!?!?!?!!? Why in the world would you patch somebody up, send her to a place where she can rest, and THEN try to kill her? Does anyone else see a problem with this here plot? It’s like the villains don’t want to have it so easy, so they devise their own Rube Goldberg plot twist to try and make it harder to kill the helpless hero. We went from 60 to stupid pretty fast for the second feature, and to be honest, I would have preferred no extra pages to having to read something this bad. I mean, I feel like I watched a bad movie and want my time and money back.

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

I made the mistake of believing I was buying the first issue of the new creative team on Titans, and, wow. This book is really, really, really bad.

Also was not much of a fan of the first issue of the new team on JSA. The story feels like a relic from the vaults at DC, not like the contemporary work of Johns, Rucka, Morrison, etc... I can already feel the pieces of a paint by numbers" team book story falling into place. It just feels like the wrong direction.

-- Posted by: Ryan at August 2, 2009 1:04 AM

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