Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Action Comics 882

by Greg Rucka, Sterling Gates, and Pere Perez

Squad K lures the three fugitives out of hiding, and General Lane has forced Reactron to be put on the team. When Chris realizes during the fight that part of the frame-up is to make everyone think the Kryptonians have sabotaged Metropolis’ sewers, he surrenders. While that might have been a good idea if there were uncorrupted officials involved, Reactron takes the opportunity to kill members of Squad K so he can get his claws on Supergirl.

Pere Perez is one of the few who can do inks and pencils both. The backgrounds are serviceable, and you can tell the directions were followed to display the scene. It’s a good job, but not stellar. Another, more famous Perez has a habit of adding extra stuff in wherever he can, and Pere could have doe it here and there in places, but didn’t. Still, at least the dual pencils/inks job wasn’t a disaster like it usually is with other artists.

The Captain Atom feature finally starts to make sense, a little. Steel’s niece, Natasha Irons, has helped to spring Cap Atom from his brainwashers, and we learn that we are in Mirabai’s magical realm. He was used to kill any opposition to Mirabai, so we have yet another hero who has tons of blood on his hands due to mental/magical coercion. Major Force shows up at the end, presumably to bring Cap Atom back under control. Cafu is still the artist, and we still have these bland scenes with precious few details, and the art alone tells me this is not enough. I know DC will be switching out the backup features that aren’t performing well. I hope they finish this story and put somebody else in here. I miss Mon-el already.

Adventure Comics 3

by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

Krypto’s acting a little weird, pulling over Conner’s rogues gallery and dumping them on the school lawn, like an animal that wants to play fetch with humans. Conner gets the idea to try to track down Luthor via his scent, but Lex has done something to prevent that from working. Conner uses Krypto’s nose for the next best thing, and tracks down Tim.

Johns does well with the interaction, using the plot to have Tim explain his recent actions that play a part in locating Bruce Wayne. They also bury the hatchet quickly about Tim kissing Wonder Girl, and still basically talking like a couple of teenage friends. Tim breaks down a little, covering his recent problems with thinking Spoiler was dead, losing Conner, his dad, and Bruce.

The story is just as much about Tim as it is about Conner, but this one issue has done better than all five issues of the Red Robin series so far to explain Tim’s motivations and process of thinking. It also paid off with the acquisition of a damaged black box, which might get him closer to tracking down Bruce, than anything else in the last six months. Maybe we should try to get Johns to write just one more monthly title…

The Legion feature focuses on Polar Boy and Sun Boy, but the light-hearted camaraderie we felt from Polar Boy we experienced in the Legion of 3 Worlds mini-series is missing here. It may just be due to his being grumpy that his reputation on his home planet still describes him as a Legion reject. Clayton Henry gives us average art, with facial expressions that come straight out of a “how to draw” book. They are after Cryo King, someone also from Tharr, who is a reject from the Legion of Super-Villains. The bad guy tries to kill Sun Boy, thinking it will get him into the group.

Then a big problem hits the story. Cryo King had a map on him that depicts Superman’s time period, and Cryo King, smug in his handcuffs, reveals the Super-Villains also have an espionage squad in the 21st century. Excuse me, but if the dude was rejected from membership, how in the world would anybody have told him such a precious secret? The entire point of this story was that the dude was REJECTED from membership. When I tell someone they can't join, I don’t turn around and hand him a treasure map and tell him top secret information! Perhaps he stole it, but they should have mentioned it. As it stands, the final four panels ruin the entire story. Amateur type mistake.

Batman 691

by Judd Winick and Mark Bagley

Two-Face can’t quite figure out that it’s Grayson in the Batman suit, but he’s found his way into the Batcave and pummeled Grayson for a while, until Alfred, wearing a Batman hood, shoots Grayson with some adrenaline. Somehow, Bruce was always able to maintain some protections around the cave, including protection from magical detection. Which is a problem, because Bruce is famous in most comics for being dubious about magic, and not trusting it. But for some reason, without Bruce around (presumably to call up Zatanna and ask for a spell refresh?), all the protections have died out. It’s pretty weak, but then again, it is Winnick writing, so what can you expect?

Bagley gives us the meat for this story, doing well with the art. The average writing is barely good enough to keep the ball rolling, but Dick does manage to convince Two-Face that it really is the original Batman in the suit, mostly because Batman has managed to beat him again. Like I said, it’s fairly weak, but what can we do? Black Mask springs him immediately from prison transport, but lets him leave Gotham City in exile, instead of killing him for not working for Black Mask. It’s a strange decision for Black Mask, because he’s enslaved all the other villains and put explosive implants in them, but he’s rather nice to Two-Face. All you can do is suggest the dude was in a good mood, I guess. They really need to switch out writers.

To top it all off, they decide to shut down the Batcave and move everything out, and Alfred declares, “it’s what he (Bruce) would have wanted.” Please. To finish the absurdity off, Dick is pulling apart the display case with the Robin suit in it. You know, the one Jason Todd wore? Well, he coincidentally discovers that the base of the display case is “not COMPLETELY hollow,’ and pulls out a flash drive that has a case file on the deaths of Dick’s parents. In the display case for remembering the death of JASON TODD.

Sigh. I take it back. It’s not average writing, it’s downright awful. Even Bagley on the title can’t keep me from wondering how much longer I can stomach buying it.

Booster Gold 25

by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

In a way that reminds you of classic stories, Dan Jurgens reveals his old-school story-telling style and spends a couple pages recapping all the recent events, so he can bring us back to the original motivation Booster had for invading the Batcave in the first place. Then we have a conversation with Rip where they make sure to show us the clues on the chalkboard multiple times, and very clearly. The concepts they hint at are steeped in DC continuity, but look cool. They also take care to show us the note in the upper right to buy milk and toaster tarts, so of course I’m sure that will be a crucial plot point later on. Heh.

Booster’s luck is awful as always. He avoids Grayson by arriving earlier, but Damian finds him, which still brings Dick-Bat running. Dick agrees to let Booster have the pictures of his ill-fated attempt to save Barbara Gordon from the Joker’s vile attack, and Booster breaks the rules a little to let Dick see his parents alive in the past one time.

It’s time for another rank amateur mistake, though, because a young Dick Grayson is depicted with his parents in a very nice cabin, all by themselves. Except Dick and company were part of a traveling circus, and nowhere in the 60 years+ of history, have we ever seen the gypsy circus performers have a place to settle down and call their permanent home. The whole point of a traveling circus (especially from that time period), combined with the history we have been given, is tat they went with the circus where the work was. True, you can shove it aside and claim they were very successful, or say it was a cabin they rented in the woods once, it’s not a devastating mistake. But it would have been truer to the history of the Graysons to have shown them in a setting closer to that of the circus environment itself, and maybe even surrounded by their extended circus family.

Mike Norton gives us some quick art for the Blue Beetle feature, a final showdown that has Jaime beat down Black Beetle, who then claims he is the future version of Jaime. It’s not enough of a gripping tale, and you sort of find yourself asking “so what?” at the end of it. They also try to get cute with the time travel, but they mess it up.

The first time is done right. We see the end comment of Black Beetle, hitting Blue Beetle from behind. Then we get to see Black Beetle’s opening statement and watch him fade out in front of Jaime, fading to the past where he can hit him. The mistake comes when he does it a second time: Instead of seeing him fade out later so he can say something and then let us hear the “end part” first from Jaime’s linear temporal perspective, they have Black Beetle fade out first before he says anything! Then we get to see that Black Beetle has teleported in time behind Jaime again, but he’s saying the second part of a phrase, and then stays in the same place to say the first part. Jaime turns around and smack shim, because his enemy already time-teleported before, so the guy somehow said his sentence backwards standing in the same place. It’s amateur hour in DC titles this week, as these little mistakes can jar the reader out of the experience. If the writer and artist had been on the same page, this wouldn’t have happened, but the editor should have caught it anyway.

Green Lantern Corps 41

by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Patrick Gleason impresses me each time with his artistic ability to creatively show the newest gruesome attacks by the Black Lanterns. Every member of the Corps is going all-out against other, previously-deceased Lantern fellows. A lot of the references make sense only if you checked out the Blackest Night Tales of the Corps mini-series, which gave us a lot of the history on opponents of characters like Arisia and Killowog.

What might be another amateur mistake happens on the last page, as an Indigo Lantern shows up to help take out the gruesomely-resurrected children that had been taken from Kryb. He says the “vial abominations” must now feel their own pain. That normally should be “vile,” but I suppose it could be an attempt at clever verbal wordplay, a reference to the babies as coming from a test tube vial. Given the trend this week, I tend to think it’s yet another rookie spelling mistake. Anyone out there know otherwise?

R.E.B.E.L.S. 9

by Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

The Omega Men successfully infiltrate the Starro forces, with their modified Starro parts attached to their bodies to blend in. It only works for a little while, though. Amusingly, Admiral Xylon of the Dominators hangs up on Kanjar Ro and leaves his planet at the mercy of the Starro invasion.

Adam Strange shows up to rescue Kanjar Ro, and together with Captain Comet, they join Dox’s crew, recognizing the galactic nature of the threat. Things turn grim at the end, when Starro’s powerful lieutenants manage to locate Dox’s current base. Next issue feels the effects of the Blackest Night event. Hmm, I wonder which threat is worse…

If you're on Facebook, they created a fan group for this title, check it out.

Red Robin 5

by Chris Yost and Ramon Bachs

We are side-tracked by Tim relating some strange story, as it was told to him. It is supposed to be important later, but it is awkward, the choice of using Tim as the narrator for that part. Writers need to learn that just because times have changed, that doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself into the current fad of having all narration come from the main character. It is actually okay to have “neutral” narration every once in a while. Yost’s choice is poor here.

Tim wakes up after being kidnapped by ninjas, and the artistic hints are there to clue in the reader that Tim is alive and injured, although Tim himself leaps to the conclusion that he has been resurrected by a Lazarus Pit. So much for any remnant of the idea that Tim was a great detective. Yost is slowly destroying this character.

After wasting our time with scenes of a dead/reliving spider death-girl and Tim’s own stupid reactions, Tam Fox is simply marched in to see that Tim Drake was the person under the hood of the Red Robin. The contriving Yost had to do to get Tam Fox in the right place at the right time for all this to happen really stretches belief. Then Tim decides to join the league and help take down the assassin(s) that has been killing them off.

The worst part is the decision Tim has made, after being injured and generally been an all-around useless, incompetent person. Somehow he thinks he can bring down the League from the inside. Without Batman. Or backup. The art is passable, but it’s like they just really don’t know what to do with the character. I feel like we’re just eating up time until we can finally get Bruce Wayne back, and they want us to feel we HAVE to buy this title to be part of that. Well, the art and story both better improve if they want us to stick with this. As it is, the entire storyline is forgettable.

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