Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Adventure Comics 2

by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

Conner continues his theme of comparing the two halves of his heritage, perhaps trying to figure out if there are enough indicators to warn him about what his future path might be. We have the beginnings of a Brainiac /Lex Luthor team-up that is forming, but Johns does not lose sight of the common sense situations involved with coming back from the dead. Wonder Girl shows up to have a discussion with Conner.

The artwork is sparse in some pages, as Manapul does his own inks, and he’s not to the stage where he can do that and have it come across well on every panel. The endless purple night sky can also get a little boring, but they are counting on you being caught up in the words. The conversation itself is fairly good, and Krypto has a good part to help make their picnic special.

The second feature with the Legion has Michael Shoemaker and Geoff Johns sharing the writing credits, and Clayton Henry on art, sans inker. Again, this type of deal lends itself to us not getting much in the way of background art. The story takes Lightning Lad to see his brother, locked up at the New Takron Galtos prison. Mekt drops the bombshell that he actually does have a twin, and he sends Garth on a search to find said twin. I’m of mixed emotions for a second feature story of the Legion to veer off into a retcon so soon, but Johns tends to work well in this environment, so I will have to see how it pans out. That said, it’s the type of story that would have fit better in a full 22-page story, and it could have made things less uneasy if the reader got to see the full story all at once. It’s the type of thing that indicates what sort of things you can try with a smaller number of pages, and some hints where you should probably steer clear.

Booster Gold 24

by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

Ye olde future-is-an-apocalypse is concluded here, with the Black Beetle having served as a minion to Trigon for years, just so he could gain access to something special that was protected. A slimy Lex Luthor pretends to be working in his own interest to help Booster Gold, but he’s still following the orders of Black Beetle.

The art is great, with a fun cast of characters and nice power effects that give us a lot of color range. Black Beetle incorporates a red scarab and gets a power boost, then does a fade-out. Booster still has to fix the original timeline, so he knocks out Deathstroke and takes the guy’s place to set the course straight again. Raven implants the memories so that everything will match up in Slade’s mind for the part he missed when Booster knocked him out. So the Titans are saved, and the future is averted, but Black Beetle still got away with that red scarab.

There is good and bad here. The good is that the storyline is progressing nicely, showing us movement as to the Black Beetle’s goals and agenda. Bad, because we are still ending up with too many pivotal moments in DC history which are now all due to Booster, either through his successes, or in having to mop up a mess. The formula risks getting stale; it’s fun to have him ‘fix’ or play a hidden-yet-instrumental role in part of legendary comics history, but to have it become part of the everyday routine is boring. Let’s see him change/fix an event in history that’s related to a well-known regular history fact, like something involving a space mission or a president, or Columbus’ first voyage to America.

The second feature has Matthew Sturges and Mike Norton pulling out some stops, with the Black Beetle appearing to kill Jaime. He actually hits Jaime’s little sister in his opening salvo! The goal is to add Jaime’s scarab to his collection. I’m guessing this part takes place before he gains the red scarab, or we would probably see him at a higher power level already. Having the villain tie together the main story with the second feature to help the backup tale have more relevance is a good idea, and this one is being done better than some of those eight-page secondary features in the mini-series they often do. Norton’s art still has its cartoony aspect, but some of the art has a more imposing appearance, which might be due to Norm Rapmund’s inking. Whatever the case, it looks better to me here.

Detective Comics 856

by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

The former aide to the previous high madame, abbot shows up and helps get Kate out of her current predicament, but Kate is beat up quite a bit. She takes a teensy bit of downtime to attend a fundraiser (because Gotham will ALWAYS need another fundraiser to fix the damage from the latest villain attack), and conveniently runs into the only other known gay character in town besides the Question: Maggie Sawyer. They get interrupted by Abbot before we can find out if Kate wants a date with her or not.

Williams’ art continues to experiment, showing us a large variety of backgrounds and forms. Cutouts for the battle scenes at the beginning, an abrupt color change and panel style in the daylight when Kate is out of uniform, then flowing musical notes for the fundraiser. Abbot has interpreted events in the past to mean that Kate is supposed to live; since someone else’s interpretation of Kate dying didn’t actually happen, he figures it was the interpretation that was wrong, and leaps to the conclusion that not only was Kate not supposed to die at that moment, but that he should work to help keep her alive. Kate already figures out that you shouldn’t waste too much time debating crazy cult followers, just in time to find out that Alice has captured Kate’s father. Yikes!

The second feature has Cully Hamner doing art chores, and I feel like I’m on double duty, having to do reviews with all of these extra features (the “inflation” of prices and stories didn’t come with a pay raise for me!). The bad guys drug Montoya and shove her in a trunk, then toss it into the lake. She gets out fairly easily. The art for this is simple, and heck, even I could have made it out of danger the way she did, it’s almost boring. One thing Hamner does that I like, he does well at illustrating the attacks and holds that she puts on one of the goons later. Still, we have to get through yet another scene of her threatening to break bones. Might as well just tape record one of those sessions and play it back on auto, so she doesn’t have to waster her breath every time.

For all of her supposed awareness, someone gets the drop on her and shoots her in the arm. Instead of freezing up from the shock, she immediately runs away at full speed, avoiding three or five more bullets. It’s all pretty uninspired, and definitely not making the comic worth the extra dollar.

Green Lantern Corps 40

by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

The opening is great, as Arisia arrives home, basically longing for a hot shower and some sleep, relieved to have reached a place of peace and comfort. Then she spots the chaos from the Black Lantern attack! Jen takes Kyle into space for a chat, but the more interesting part is where Kryb tries to reach the children that used to be captives of it, but the Zamaron can tell Kryb is telling the truth, so the Sapphire actually decides to team up with the Sinestro Corps member for the sake of the children.

Another scene that is great shows the Alpha Lanterns trying to take over since the Guardians are out of commission, and Salaak quotes them the law’s chapter and verse to establish his rightful command in place in the chain of command. It’s interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it hints at some disturbing corruption in the function of the Alpha Lanterns that their thought patterns worked that way to begin with, rather than a compulsion to automatically follow the existing law of Oa. Two, it reminds us that Salaak is no pushover.

Gleason is great on the art, and we see some neat Green Lanterns get killed that maybe we wanted to see more of in their regular lives. Katma Tui’s return is equally disturbing and gory, and therefore great. Bzzd is back too, lest we forget the insect Lantern, and his exchange with Gardner is awesome. The Blackest Night saga has been a gret idea, and it has helped this title to become as gripping and visually exciting as any other in the DC line. I have no idea how it will maintain its resonance after the event is over, but I am enjoying the heck out of it right now.

Red Robin 4

by Chris Yost and Ramon Bachs

Tim has help from al Ghul to ease his entry into Iraq. Bachs does well with what he has, and visually it’s an okay issue to read. The writing is a mess. Tim spends his time fussing over the compromises he is making constantly, but wasn’t that the entire point of him adopting the Red Robin identity? So he could do more compromising things without tarnishing the legacy of the Bat? It does no good for the character’s growth if he seems to accept his ‘darker’ direction in one issue, but then regret everything and moan about it the next. Is he committed to this new direction or not? Does he want to be ‘darker’ as Red Robin, or should he just go back to Gotham with his tail between his legs? The wishy-washy of it is jarring, and threatens the continuity of a very simple story.

Wait, it gets worse. Dick shows up in a flashback to tell Tim he only wants to help. Then he reverts to force when Tim refuses. I am really getting tired of Dick being a hothead when he’s really not, and starting fights every two seconds instead of talking to the people he’s supposed to be closer with than anyone else on the planet. Yost is trying way too hard to generate conflict, but it’s all fake.

Next, we see Tim find a bat drawing on a cave in Iraq. We don’t now how he knew it was there. We also don’t know how a single drawing can be proof enough for Tim. Maybe explanations will come in an issue or two? Right now it’s just poor story-telling. Finally, we have the murderer of the rest of the previous League of Assassins members show up, and he’s derivative of a couple other villains. His shtick here is just two swords, and he takes out Tim like a rank amateur. Are we really supposed to think Tim is dead at the end?


Titans 17

by Pat McCallum and Angel Unzueta

A new writer with a solo focus on Garfield Logan. The opening sequence, though, has all of the Titans around the breakfast table, for a great exchange full of humor. Meanwhile, Starfire is wearing a Batman t-shirt, which a psychologist could have a field day with, considering Dick is now Batman, and she loves Dick, but they are not together right now. I have no idea if this was the artist simply giving her something to wear, or a very clever subtext, but if it was intentional, it would seem much more clever than if it was a happy accident.

I’m laughing at the shirts that Wally and Roy are wearing to tease Gar still when they switch to another attempt by Gar to link up with raven. I never thought that story was a good one, and it really feels like they are beating a dead horse with it. Still, they have Cyborg tell Gar that he is playing a role instead of growing up, and it does fit a little. We follow it up with moer humor at a convention appearance, all with impressive art. Wayne Faucher is a great inker, but I think Unzueta is also getting better.

They end with Gar helping out the Teen Titans, and setting the stage for some foreshadowing, hinting that Gar may be willing to head over to lead the Teen team soon. Another weak point is that Cyborg brings up Terra when Gar still seems obsessed with Raven, so the story wasn’t perfect, but it does work well overall. For a series that is spending a lot of time on character exploration, and not much action, the series is actually doing much better for me. It was that exploration of these characters as people growing up that made them so interesting when the first Wolfman/Perez team scored big with them, and this is closer to that without being overly derivative. So much better than the waste of time we had to wait through with Winick’s writing. Nicely done.

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