Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 2

Batman Annual 27


by Fabian Nicieza and J. Calafiore

Nicieza gets to continue the development of the new Azrael in a two-part saga that concludes in the Detective Annual, and the covers of two annuals form a cool poster. They work in a cool scene at the beginning that allows Dick to show up Damian in acrobatics, and pound the point home that the kid should not be over-confident, but nothing seems to penetrate his thick head. They jump into a murder mystery which is a cover for someone trying to recover a hidden something.

Caliafore seems to take more time with the art when Azrael shows up, and gives him some powerful presence. Nicieza later pokes fun at the cliché of a hero holding someone by the throat and expecting him to talk at the same time; that little bit of humor peeks through just when you might have forgotten it, but it’s part of the charm of Nicieza’s writing. This is a solid story, and also has a two-page joke written by Derek Friddles and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, and a back-up feature written by Mandy McMurray and drawn by Kelley Jones. It’s an Oracle story that will also conclude in the Detective annual. The bat-shadow dripping with blood from the ceiling at the end is nice and spooky.

R.E.B.E.L.S. Annual 1: Starro the Conqueror

by Tony Bedard, Claude St. Aubin, Karl Moline, Mark Pennington, Derec Donovan, and Halman Andrasofszky

Dude, the annual opens with Starro killing Despero! Talk about shaking things up a bit. The framing story serves to kick different characters into flashbacks, allowing us to get a glimpse of the origins of these powerful foes. The art is different with each tale, yet close enough to feel that they compliment one another well.

Tony Bedard has had experience with stories of all-powerful enemies before, with the Charon mini-series for Crossgen. Here, he tackles some of the same philosophy, but with a little twist. The overwhelming power of Starro is used to conquer good and evil alike, until the distinction becomes meaningless to the object of the lessons. The Daughter of Storms was a beneficent soul, but Starro’s attack led her to consume the souls of her entire planet in her bid to defeat him.

The story of General Smite is the opposite, that of an evil man manipulated into defending his foes form Starro, to the point that he starts acting like a hero. Once Starro has deluded the guy, he stops pretending and destroys everything in his path, until smite learns that “evil” doesn’t hold as much threat as the total lack of any sense of right and wrong, only pure, unadulterated power.

And yet, Starro still understands how the rest of the world works, and uses that knowledge to hatch a plan to strike at Dox. The experience draws Starro back to his roots as Cobi. The unique attributes of his race turn out to be a problem for one of the space-faring Starros, and Cobi manages to overpower the threat and control it. The tale comes from the point of view of the space-fish that is now welded to Starro’s chest, and the story speaks of his impressive feat of enslaving the rest of the Starro race, binding them to his will, and using them to look for greater challenges.

Yet again, we have a title that occupies a small corner of the DCU, and it is being ignored by a lot of fans. This annual works great as a stand-alone story, but ties in well to the regular R.E.B.E.L.S. title. This effort by Bedard is worthy of praise, and I hope more people check it out.

Strange Adventures 8

by Jim Starlin, Scott McDaniel, and Andy Owens

The last issue, and finally Bizarro is brought together with the rest of the team, all so Synnar can finally make his pitch and convince these people to become members of his Aberrant Six. Synnar claims the status of each of these people is unique, and will allow him to confront God, basically, and take his place. Starlord agrees to the deal and is transformed, until he looks like a mash-up of Takion and Marvel’s Bloodscream. It’s ugly.

Captain Comet is mentally abused, and he gives in to the illusion of physical pain, which strikes me as a little cheap, and it looks like Synnar will get his way. The female, Eye, commits suicide, though, and proves yet again that this mega-powerful dude who claimed to have omniscience doesn’t know much. Adam Strange had been planning the suicide bit himself, but Eye beat him to it.

The result is that Synnar walks away, hinting that Eye will be resurrected, and he will try again, next time with a plan to convince Adam Strange to go along. The story ends with everyone basically going home, and Synnar just waiting around?!? This is a terrible end, and makes you wonder if there was ever a cohesive story from the start. It’s basically a train wreck, and has me doubting if I will ever try a Jim Starlin book again, even if I do like his art.

There just seems no point to any of it, and nothing for the reader to take away at the end of the day. The meat of the series was average with good art sometimes, but the payoff has to be good, and the ending here was abysmal.

Warlord 7

by Mike Grell

Mike Grell handles the cover, the inside art, and the writing this time. We start at a new place from the previous issue, with a new development. The Warlord is unconscious, with corpses littered around him from some great battle. A woman runs past, trying to escape some attackers, and he leaps to her rescue. The art is fantastic.

Turns out, the Warlord has amnesia, but two-page spread seems to show that a lot of it comes back to him in a rush. The rescued lady tends to him and recognizes him, and takes him on a tour of some ancient ruins, just before they get ambushed by a group of primitive men that seem more than a little ape-like. It’s a new mystery, and the art was breath-taking. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. This is a title that might struggle, because sword-and-sorcery comics seem to have a problem catching on if they’re not Conan, but the comic world needs adventure like this, and I hope DC sticks with this book, despite the relatively low sales.

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