Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Batman 690

by Judd Winick and Mark Bagley

Dick is kept busy by a couple of villains just so Penguin can get some space from the heat. Unfortunately, his new benefactor kills all his goons and declares himself the new boss. Even when things work out for poor Penguin, they don’t work out. Two-Face has gotten smart and managed to get into the Batcave, even going so far as to leave his mark on ye olde huge coin. It’s a good issue, feels about halfway through the story arc.

The small problem is that it feels like it “belongs” in a trade, because it doesn’t have a very good beginning-middle-end to it. I wish writers would get back to the days when you could read one issue of a story arc and still feel like you had a good story, period. Winick and company are so busy crafting this long saga, they forgot to keep to the structure imposed by the 22-page format. It lends itself to the feeling that you’re reading one long run-on sentence, and with no idea of when it will end, one issue from now or ten. I blame the editor. And the writer.

Justice League: Cry for Justice 3

by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli

Ah, the famous page of four guys staring at a teenager’s chest. This first page is probably one of the most photo-shopped pages on the net, with all sorts of crude and/or funny comments in place of Hal’s actual text. Luckily, the rest of the issue is better. Unfortunately, Robinson decides to take Ray Palmer, whose wife went crazy and killed Sue Dibny, and have him make a crack about Freddy’s hormones. Does anyone in the universe think the brilliant scientist Ray Palmer, who is allegedly preoccupied with a determination to find justice (per the whole freaking plot of this entire mini-series), is stopping in the middle of a bunch of unconscious villains to make a sexual reference and give the new kid some ribbing?!? This is just a continuation of Robinson interjecting his own insecurities and inappropriate attempt at innuendo humor onto characters and situations where they feel really out of place. It’s like he has a fixation. Maybe he needs a real girlfriend, but if I have to read another sexual reference in conversations between Superman and Green Lantern, I’m going to start burning these comic books.

The heroes remain as dense as lead, while the imitation Prometheus actually tells them what they want to know. It takes most of the issue for them to understand that the real Prometheus is behind things, and they’ve only caught his impersonator stooge. The scenes with Starman and Bill are much better, and the art is the equivalent of being worthy to stop and smell the color of the pages! Beautiful stuff, although Cascioli still needs to learn to incorporate a sense of movement into his style for a comic format. Stooge Prometheus turns out to be Clayface with a bomb inside of him, and Hal’s power ring appears to be a little too slow on the uptake to warn them, but I’m sure it was just in time.

The real Prometheus has used Ira Quimby, he of the vast intelligence, to help him set up his plans, and then performed a most brilliant sabotage on Quimby. Robinson takes a rather cliché approach at making Prometheus scary again, by showing his quick dispatch of some mostly-unused DC heroes. It’s weak, and Robinson’s extra pages are mostly a man-crush on Grant Morrison that give us an additional sense of how desperate Robinson is to try to make Prometheus cool again. He’s only about halfway there, and if he doesn’t do something clever, he won’t make it the rest of the way.

Solomon Grundy 7

by Scott Kolins

The hints have been there all along, and the graphic depiction of Cyrus Gold’s killer eventually becomes revealed. It shouldn’t be a big surprise to you, but I’m not going to spoil it here anyway. Alan Scott steps in to force the Demon back to give Cyrus enough time to salvage a chance at redemption. He doesn’t quite make it, and Cyrus is taken away, the life-force gone from Solomon Grundy.

The art is awesome, and the choice of panels and positions is good, just subtle enough to suggest the killer but not guarantee it. Cyrus appears to end up in Hell, and the ending shows a black ring showing up to reanimate the corpse that is Solomon Grundy, absence the presence of Cyrus Gold! That makes this as the cover has it marked, a prelude to the Blackest Night event, and I have to say that was brilliant.

For the parts where Kolins fell short in the writing department from time to time, I think he really brought it home in the end, managing to create an interesting, well-drawn mini-series that highlighted a character, developed him, and let him continue to grow (sort of, in an undead way) into the Blackest night event. Very nicely done, and unexpected.

Strange Adventures 7

by Jim Starlin and Scott McDaniel

The old mental piece of the original Captain Comet is inside the Weird’s psyche, and the new, current version ends up trying to settle the difference between their philosophies with a fight. The mental gymnastics inside the Weird’s head are somewhat interesting, and the graphical representation is reminiscent of some old-time reality-distortion we used to see in titles like Doctor Strange, only here they are much more crisp and less spooky.

Eventually the mess inside the Weird of multiple personalities reach a consensus, and synnar gets control back. Strangely enough (in a poorly communicated way), none of Synnar’s deity-like awareness of the future works: everything is going wrong in ways he never saw coming. So much for omnipotence. It’s a weak point in Starlin’s story. Now that the Weird and Synnar are back in their respective bodies, can we get those missing stars back?

The backup tale is still a waste of space, with an attempt at having us sympathize momentarily with the throwaway villain, but McDaniel’s art is not the right style to make it hit home. We STILL don’t get Bizarro where he’s supposed to go, as the minion is still trying to do something that will make Bizarro resemble something closer to Hawkman, to fit the stupid prophecy that never worked out right in the first place.

I think this series is running out of steam, and I find myself hoping they will give these characters a break after this series, maybe retool and let someone else take a crack at exploring the cosmic sections of DC. Or just leave it to Tony Bedard over in R.E.B.E.L.S.

Supergirl Annual 1

by Sterling Gates and Fernando Dagnino

The first story puts Kara in a bank ostage situation, and she manages to stop the bad guys, but reveals the presence of a Kryptonian on Earth. She inadvertently exposes a mother and her daughter to be Kryptonians who stayed on Earth to avoid their destiny in the Laborer’s Guild. They escape, and Supergirl is left to wonder the thoughts of a teenager who is aware she managed to screw things up yet again when she was just trying to help. It’s a nice story, and fits in pretty well with the overall saga.

The second story shows us the return of Lucy Lane, Superwoman. We see into her childhood, and Gates does well to show us her eagerness to obey her dad, which translates into blind obedience even as an adult. Her dad is aware of her feelings of inadequacy, and mercilessly uses that to manipulate her into doing what he wants.

We get a couple of tidbits, such as the fact that Mirabai has been around since the beginning of his plot, and her magic was used to help power the super-suit. We see more of General Lane going underground and resurfacing with a plot to make him the hero and get him the position he needs to act as the defender of earth from all threats. It’s still a little too Norman Osborn for my taste, but it’s easily accepted from a military man who sees the goal and takes the steps to reach it.

The weird thing is that when Lucy reappears, one of General Lane’s soldier’s thinks he won’t be happy about it. Why not? He was crushed when she died. He might find her useful again now that she’s back, or even have a happy feeling for a few seconds. But there is still the mystery of how she’s back…

Good stuff.

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