Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

The Brave And The Bold 29

by J. M. Straczynski and Jesus Saiz

Brother Power the Geek emerges from the ashes, continuing Straczynski’s theme of teaming up a well-known hero with somebody a little more far out (fans who already know the Geek will be aware of my lame puns). There are multiple tales being weaved here, including a flashback memory of Bruce Wayne as a child, where we overhear one of the biggest problems with relationships and love. While it’s a true comment, and worth study for people who find themselves fighting a lot in the middle of dating or marriage, Straczynski tries to reflect that we can also feel the same way when our creations (which can include children) don’t quite turn out the way we want them to.

The overall effect is one asking the reader to engage in a lot of reflection. Saiz tries very hard to give each character an appropriate expression, even though that can be hard to see through Batman’s mask. The idea that the Geek is not necessarily the monster, but that Batman may indeed be a form of monster in a sense, is also mentioned.

It is easy to see how some people might not like this story. The framing device is fairly average, and Straczynski has the “voice” of Batman a little different than we might be used to, and the team-up aspect of this encounter is fairly loose. The lack of action and the numerous flashbacks for both characters all lend themselves to a story that tries to pull together by the end, but may be an example of a writer stretching too far and coming up short. Mixed in with all this is the normal cliché of a figure who looks different, and showing that he is less of a monster than many things around him.

Still, for all of its small problems, it still turned out to be a pretty good read. Anything that prompts the reader to stop and reflect is a good deal, and this comic tries to ask you to do just that. Maybe it borders on the line of preachy in a place or two, but I’d recommend it.

The Flash: Rebirth 5

by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver

There are a couple revelations in this issue, the first being that the twins have been sharing the same connection to the speed force. The end result of Irey’s actions gives her all the power, and she decides to take up the ID of a new Impulse, while Jai appears to be without powers now. A lot of the rest of the issue is a fight between all the speedsters and Reverse-Flash. The art is maintaining its excitement, but the coloring choices are actually a little too bright, and they clash a little in places.

The major revelation is that Reverse-Flash killed Barry’s mom, which finally answers the question for longtime fans who were scratching their heads and worrying that this was a retcon pulled out of nowhere. It’s not a retcon as much as Thawne changing the past, a new capability that comes along with his “negative speed force.” While this power of his could be explained better, I don’t think it will happen in this series. The angst and adversity that Barry encountered growing up has all been a result of Thawne, who has always held the opinion that he should basically force everyone’s evolution by giving them terrible things to overcome. So he has also done more mundane stuff like just push Barry down the stairs at school. Who knows how any places Thawne traveled throughout the timeline to muck things up?

I’m of mixed feelings about this because if they don’t shut down this capability, Thawne will be able to do what nobody else can: change the past permanently. Will Johns keep Barry’s mom dead when this is over, to provide additional “flavor” in Barry’s past to help explain his need for speed? Or will we “fix” Thawne’s tampering and restore Barry’s parents to the “proper” pre-Rebirth continuity? I’m not sure how it will shake out, but it is a fun read.

We can have more fun with it, too. Homework assignment: I want everyone to write their own issue of Flash: Rebirth 5 1/2, which shows all of Thawne's trips through Barry's past, and covering each and every thing he did to him. We know he killed Barry's dog and broke Barry's arm. I'm looking forward to seeing how Thawne also was responsible for there not being any toilet paper in the bathroom that one time, and the time he soaked Barry's hand in water while he was sleeping. Please turn in your work by next Friday.

JSA 80-Page Giant #1

by various

This issue is a big mess. The framing story has a problem on the second page, with Wildcat barging in to join everyone during an alarm. The past couple days, I have been ranting about the problem of having characters on a team with identical code names, and referring to Didio’s comment that nobody is confused, so they won’ change anything. And maybe that would work, except a snide comment by Tommy (Wildcat II) has his word balloon aiming at Ted Grant (Wildcat I). So the letterer is confused, at least, and nobody else in the legion of people who worked on this 80-page giant caught it either, meaning a dozen or so other people might also be confused. The timing is perfect for my argument, and Tommy really needs to come up with a new name. We do not need to be spending our time trying to sort out letterer mistakes and figure out who said what in the middle of a story.

The multiple smaller stories throughout this mag are disjointed, with the heroes not remembering what they are doing or why they are doing it. The breakout of their teams are mixed and matched without warning in a way that adds to the confusion, such that the different stories don’t lead into each other very well. One feature with Amazing Man has him arguing with an old guy about faith, and then agreeing with him about faith in the very next panel. The entire issue is filled with small bits of awkward like this.

Then we have Judomaster, who is speaking perfect English in the JSA. Now, I realize some woman calling herself Judomaster showed up in the Birds of Prey series chronologically before JSA, and she spoke English. However, the Judomaster who appeared in JSA did not know that many English words, and spent most of her time being quiet. Setting aside the discussion on the fan boards about whether this is the same character, or if there are two Judomasters (which would also support my bid to end the confusion by NOT having multiples of the same name running around), I would submit that the JSA Judomaster version should be used in a JSA special! Duh.

The nonsense continues, as Tommy finds out his mother had a catlike transformation problem too, but at the end of the episode, a picture falls on Tommy’s head. It’s a picture of his mom, Ted Grant, and the original villain Huntress in the jungle. Here’s my question: since they were the only three around, who took the picture? And for heaven’s sake, why would Wildcat stop to pose for a picture while the love of his life was dangling from a trap in the middle of the jungle?!?

We end with Dr. Fate (the Hector Hall version, not the current one… again, see my earlier article about confusion…) repeating the same prophecy a couple times too many. Everything gets solved by one punch. How nice and simple! This was disgraceful, and poorly explained the entire way through.

Supergirl 47

by Sterling Gates and Matt Camp

Gates does well with the history of the guilds of Krypton, using flashbacks to highlight the differences between Alura the scientist and Zor-el’s artistry. He uses it to explain Alura’s current state of mind, and why she makes the choices she does. The issue revolves around the trial of Reactron for killing a bunch of Kryptonians, including Zor-el. Alura performs a frame job and makes it appear that dissidents have killed Reactron.

What really happened is that she had a soldier killed to hide the fact that she has turned Reactron over to Commander Gor so he can torture Reactron and learn about their enemies. It’s a ruthless move, with some regret on her part, but not enough to prevent her from killing yet another precious Kryptonian life. If this keeps up, the race should die out in another year or two. Matt Camp’s artwork is well done, and his style allows for him to do his own inking. It’s not very tight, but the layouts and the lighting and other elements all help to cover this up. The modern allusions to Guantanamo Bay and torture are heavy here, but it fits within the framework of this story, and I think I enjoyed this story better than the JSA wreck and the B&B issue.

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