Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Action Comics 883

by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Pere Perez

Eric Trautmann comes into the writing chores in place of James Robinson, and it works okay. There’s a small slip in the art early on, as Jax-ur uses his heat vision on two guys in rapid succession. The block panel is in the middle of a two-page spread configuration, and we see the heat vision going from Jax-ur to one guy, but on the left, we only see the end effect of the heat vision, no sign of it coming from Jax-ur. That might suggest he was the first one hit, and the second guy to the right is where we are landing on this scene. However, the two-block-split shows us the last guy getting hit with his left hand in the other block simultaneously, which means they really should have shown a second heat blast coming from Jax-ur. If they want to show the speed, they should have drawn an after-image of his face, with some lines hinting movement from one target to the next. As it is, it makes the reader have to stop and figure out what happened, and a scene should flow more smoothly than that. It’s a weird mistake to have so early in a comic.

There are still a lot of pieces to this story, and we finally get to see people pick up on the fact that Jimmy Olsen is missing. Perry White goes “in search of,” and we get to see him sweating a couple times in a row, hitting home how out of place and nervous he feels doing something like this. Whatever his background, Perry is now the head of a big institution, and at home in his place of power. This snooping around stuff should be left to the young ‘uns, and the story shows that well. A little bit of action with Nightwing and Flamebird, and a rapid aging of Chris lines up the two with Jax-ur, Dr. Light close by. Not too shabby.

The second feature is still a simplistic waste of art, with little definition by the art team. There is also no explanation how Major Force is able to tackle Captain Atom and immediately take him out of the magical realm. There is an art to an eight-page comic story, and these guys have not mastered it yet.

Batman 693

by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea

The setup is weird. Tony Daniel is slowly growing as both artist and writer, but this idea that Black Mask is controlling a section of Gotham City and is penned in by the National Guard just doesn’t work. Are there innocents in that section of Gotham? Are there massive roadblocks making the citizens go around that area? We don’t know, because we never get to see it. Meanwhile, the Black Mask gets to roam around everywhere he wants to from all sights, so it’s not working anyway. It’s a big mess.

Dick Grayson acts uncomfortable dressing up to mingle with socialites?!? Grayson grew up in a millionaire’s mansion playing around the rich and famous. Before that, he was a circus performer, in front of thousands of eyeballs every night. He rubs shoulders with Superman. He is not “uncomfortable” getting into a tux and going to a freaking party!! These are the pitfalls of mischaracterization that a writer might get away with for people who don’t know or care, but a lot of us have been reading Grayson’s adventures for anywhere between 20 to 60 years. You can’t do stuff like that to him. It “feels” wrong automatically.

Too may threads are running in this comic, and it’s the wrong setting for a new creative team to do. We’ve got Black Mask, the Falcones, Huntress and Riddler and Kitrina, the Reaper... They do allude to the new Arkham asylum in a way that meshes well with the other DC books, and linger on Oracle during a Helena-Grayson kiss that might mean something to longtime readers, but means nothing to a newer reader. There is an awkward imbalance between the attempt to let the art show the meaning, but not enough writing to make clear the import.

We end in a clumsy attempt at tragedy. Batman infiltrates the Black Mask’s territory, where there are half a dozen teenagers lolling around outside. The one kid willing to talk to the atman is immediately shot and killed by an unseen assassin. Just how did the sniper know to be there? It’s a little cheap. This title needs something more if it hopes to catch up to the more popular titles out there.

Batman and Robin 6

by Grant Morrison and Philip Tan

For all the failures of the Batman title, I still enjoyed it better than Batman and Robin. There is an attempt to describe this run as a melding of modern awesomeness and the ‘60s campy TV show, but Jason’s physical transformation still is stupid, and his scheme to unmask the dynamic duo on a webcam, while slightly reminiscent of the TV show, just does not fit well with his previous behavior (it’s an attempt to break the fourth wall and remind us that Jason Todd’s original death was by a call-in by the fans in the real world). The new villain is ridiculous looking, and we don’t really learn anything about him the entire time, which is a weakness of the story.

We next turn to Robin getting shot in the back three times, and now he can’t feel his legs. This, despite the protection offered by both his cape and fortified body armor. This is followed by Jason claiming he beat his “arch-enemy.” ? Does he mean Grayson? Or the pink mafia guy he was able to push off a cliff with a conveniently-placed bulldozer? Was the bulldozer left there with keys in it? Does it belong to Jason? Did he hotwire it? We never know, because the writer can’t be bothered to tell us anything, and the art doesn’t help to explain any aspect of it. It’s just one senseless rambling fight.

We end with Morrison having Grayson utter the old ‘zur en arrh’ words, and I’m really sick of that whole theme. I did not like his original run involving that stuff, and failed to hit the mark with it. Now he has Grayson using the words, when it was a Bruce Wayne thing the whole time before that? He needs to let it go.

Red Robin 6

by Chris Yost and Marcus To

This entire issue is a little awkward, as Yost sandwiches the Blackest Night: Batman mini-series in between this issue and the last one. Tim arranges for three bait targets, and fights one of the bad guys that shows up. The other two targets have teams protecting them, but he finds out at the end that they have all been killed. There is a ton of inconsistency, as the first man on Tim’s team dies, and he stops to contemplate that fact, and how the death is “on him." The rest of his team except for Pru also gets killed, but we don’t hear anything more about how all these deaths on all these teams are also a result of his plan.

The other awkward part is the continued flashback sequences trying to describe the assassin’s origin, the one who is killing all of al Ghul’s people. There is nobody in present day who survived to witness any of this, so who tells Tim this entire story at the end? Because it’s a pretty long story already, and still rambling on to no effect. And why, oh why is Tim letting Tam stay where she is, and gallivanting off to get a bunch of people killed? She’s a civilian with no stake in anything, and he can’t get her clear?

There is no sign of intelligence here, and Tim is supposed to be the smart one. This is a big stalling effort, a clumsy story, and the art is sufficient to depict what it needs to, but without being great.

The Shield 3

by Eric Trautmann and Marco Rudy

The military feel to this comic is still present, and I appreciate the sense that somebody involved with the comic has this experience. We see the end of the fight, and also learn more about the capabilities of the Shield’s battlesuit. I’m not sure I buy the idea that Shield can simply yell for a second, and it cause both sides to stop shooting in the middle of a gunfight, but I’ll let it slide. Overall, it’s a good story and some good art.

However, the waste of a second feature has me ready to drop this series with any extra excuse. The art is still sub-par, and even though I stopped to read it for a change, there is no aspect that makes me the slightest interested in yet another fire character. All others have more charisma, whether it’s the Human Torch, Hammond, Pyro, or somewhat close, the Ray. It’s tough enough to try to incorporate a character like the Shield into the DCU, how can they waste pages on Inferno? Make him a bit player somewhere else so he shows up as part of the ensemble, and give up the ghost already.

With Magog only recently being focused on, the team-up has served its purpose. I wonder who benefited the most, Magog or the Shield? Either way, the combination was a good one. Now to tune in next month, and see how the Shield does on his own.

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