Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review

We’re going to do something a little different this week, because I’m heading out of town for three days, so the reviews are going to be lightning-fast, and without the usual “pretty” way I depict the titles and creative teams. Please forgive me if there are some spelling errors, I’m literally typing this up just before I head out the door.

Arkham Reborn 1 – David Hine is back, giving us an intelligent man who has slightly different motives than your average bear. Jeremy Haun’s art gives us a perfectly creepy view of someone that Gotham’s authorities trust, but when we get a peek at the insides of how he thinks, and what he is trying to do, it almost makes us shiver. Plus, he’s not the only one with an agenda, and the upcoming trials instill an appropriate sense of dread. Very good first issue!

Astro City: Astra Special #2 – Beautiful illustrations by Brent Anderson, and a nice tale that comments on our celebrity culture, all amidst Astra’s coming of age. The potential for her future is as breathtakingly exciting as the art, and the way she handles the tabloid press coverage and the slimy stuff that comes along with that is admirable. This is a great tale that covers an adult topic, but not in the “grown up,” “dark” sense that a lot of other comics are like these days (a la the Punisher). Also, I got a letter printed in the column in the back, so that also makes it one of my favorites for the week. As if it wasn’t going to be one already.

Batman 692 – Tony Daniel is back in the writer’s seat, and he has improved since the last time. His art is nice, but the fact that Grayson kind of asks for permission to take something from a crime scene is neat. Gordon mentions that Batman doesn’t need to ask for permission, implying Gordon’s consent to treat Grayson as the real deal, and maintain the special relationship that Gotham P.D. has with masked vigilantes.

The next part is not so strong, with Dick hiring Selina to do his detective work, when we should get to see more detective work from Grayson himself. I’m wary of the new storyline, which introduces a member of the Falcone family, and this constant use of the night backgrounds as red is weird. In too many DC comics lately, they use rd, as if they never want the “crisis” mode to end. Whatever happened to showing us a starry night sky that is properly black, or maybe has a tint of yellow city street lights, or a purple smog?

Daniel also falls into the old trap of describing what his own art shows, and we have to put up with a goon who sees Batman throw a smoke grenade… and then tell everyone else that batman has thrown a smoke grenade. Superfluous. I need more to see how well Tony Daniel can do as both writer and artist, but I must admit, I already like what he has started here better than Winick’s previous attempt.

Blackest Night 4 – Geoff Johns + Ivan Reis makes for one of the best creative teams these days. The villains have been attached to some black rings, and it’s great to watch Johns use Flash, Atom and Mera as humanity’s line of defense. He does this in a much better way than anything I saw Morrison do in Final Crisis. There’s also a precious scene with Scarecrow as he encounters this nightmarish threat, and an awesome scene where Lex Luthor rightfully asserts his position, and his selfish interests at the same time. This is the reason why DC is doing so well right now. Amazing writing and amazing art all in one package.

Blackest Night: Titans 3 – Ed Benes is at his best, and the colorist is also great here. The mini-series concludes with Dove being the death-touch for all of the Black Lanterns, severing the connections of the rings. The only part where this story falls short is when Gar talks about Terra, highlighting yet again JT Krul’s short-fall of proper knowledge about Titan history. Gar claims that he “heard what everyone said behind my back” about Terra, but believed she was a good person. Krul needs to reread the Judas Contract and related stories. At the time, everyone liked terra, although Raven had some issues with her. Terra fooled the whole team. Nobody was saying anything bad about her behind anyone’s back. That’s what made her betrayal so huge, and so awesomely bad. Krul’s revision that none of the other Titans lied her is categorically false, and ruins the current plot in an attempt to show growth for Gar. A good editor would have caught it.

The Last Days of Animal Man 6 – Lazy art wraps up a bad story, with Buddy beating the bad guys with microscopic bacteria, and setting himself up as a stunt director. At the end, the League of Titans asks him to basically do monitor duty for them, and he turns them down. His wife has to tell him that he doesn’t have to give up being himself just to keep the family happy. Idiot that Buddy is, and everything he went through that was supposed to help him grow and learn this point,… and we still have to have his wife hit him over the had with it on the fifth-to-last page. Terrible! Even worse, Starfire is playing a peeping-tom. Has she been hanging outside his window all these days, waiting for him to discover the meaning of life? Even she says, “It’s about time.” I mean, how many months has she been stalking him now? Terrible.

Detective 858 – J. H. Williams III gives us a different style for this flashback story, which shows the twins, Alice and Kate growing up with their parents. He switches to his more recent modern panel experiments for a couple pages, just to keep the story moving along a small bit in the present. Then we see how Kate’s family life fell apart in a hostage crime. Rucka’s done a good thing here, I think, but it did make for a sudden halt in the regular storyline.

Rucka finishes the current arc with the Question for the backup feature, with less-than-stellar art by Cully Hamner. Renee climbs onto the mansion’s outer walls, which don’t even have elegant spikes to ward off trespassers (what kind of villain is this, to have smooth walls?!?), and the goons can’t hit her. I’ve been compaining abou thtis for months, and even one of the crooks declares, “You guys are the worst shots ever.” Said goon is also holding a gun, and didn’t manage to hit anything either, by the way. As boring as the art is, the story actually manages to wrap itself up better than anything the beginning or middle did for itself.

Green Lantern 47 – Pure awesome. Doug Mahnke is in high form on art, and the colorist does a remarkable job. I commented last issue that it was a little strange to see Sinestro stepping up to take charge, and Hal adequately counters that this issue, settling that Hal will be in the lead. Originally he was hesitant to even leave his colleagues on Earth, but nature abhors a vacuum, and Hal could only stand by for so long as Sinestro attempted to fill that void. Geoff Johns continues the excellent meta-story.

Justice Society of America 32 – The team starts to understand that the All-American Kid may just be innocent, but only to fall for the idea that King Chimera may be the culprit. This, even though Obsidian has been attacked, and a large group of villains tried to ambush the team, etc. They seem a little dense, and not considering the possibility that someone else could be behind all of these troubles.

Check out the bounties offered for the JSA members at the bottom of the two-page villain splash… Mr. America is only worth $23K! Hilarious. Alan Scott and Dr. Fate try to save Mr. Terrific with magic, and the villains attack, interrupting the attempted murder investigation. The story is slowly improving, and Jesus Merino’s art helps to save the rest of it. Still missing the magic that took this title into top ten territory not so long ago.

Madame Xanadu 16 – Amy Hadley is back on pencils to showcase a mysterious ailment on a woman in 1957. Xanadu isn’t shown until the end, when she diagnoses that the woman is under mystical attack. It’s a good read, and Matt Wagner is keeping me properly enthralled, eager to see where the story will take us next.

Superman 693 – Mon-el is the focus, as General Lane attempts to recruit him to the “proper” side. Hearing Lane’s reasoning, you can almost understand his point of view and reason for doing things. This is pretty good work for James Robinson, who gives us some good motivation that can help the reader to relate to the bad guy of the story. Fernando Dagnino is impressive on art, and I am so overjoyed to be able to pay $2.99 and see some great art with good complements by a good, separate person as the inker. Mon-el breaks out, and at the end, Bizarro pops up, fresh from the boring digression he took in Jim Starlin’s recent cosmic mini-series.

Superman: Secret Origin 2 – Long story short, this is Geoff Johns’ version of how the Legion introduced themselves to Superboy, with a little snot of Lex Luthor thrown in for good measure. Gary Frank is good on art, and this issue was easily better than at least ten of the other issues reviewed this week. Definitely worth your time.

Teen Titans 76 –I want to like what Felicia Henderson is doing as writer, but there’s a little discombobulation in the way the teammates speak bout Gar being their leader, only to have Wonder Girl step up and reassert herself as leader. No sooner does Gar yell, “titans together!” than he turns around and runs back inside, leaving the team to fend for itself. Yildiray Cinar is fun on pencils, but we don’t learn much about the threat, and we end with Cassie and Gar yelling at each other. Kind of getting tired of that. The second feature with Ravager also has nice art, but is still mostly a waste of time.

World’s Finest 1 - Sterling Gates falls a little flat for me, because even though I like Julian Lopez’s art, the art doesn’t match the story elements very well. Fro example, Red Robin is tackling some goons, and he thinks Conner has shown up to help him. The rest of the bad guys get away, but Tim starts to turn to smile at Conner in thanks for the assist. Hello? Tim had them on the ropes before Conner showed up, and now they just all get away.

Nightwing (Chris the Kryptonian) is asking Tim for help, and he takes an incredibly long time to get to the point. Tim is steady in his ability to be an unfeeling jerk, and it feels totally out of character. Finally, two pages late, we learn that Flamebird is a captive. Tim finally agrees to help, and asks Nightwing to get him to Gotham. But instead of waiting for Nightwing, the next page shows Tim jumping off a roof on his own. The image is great art-wise, it’s one of the best-drawn pages in the comic, but it doesn’t match what Tim asked Chris to do. The story concludes all right, though.

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