Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Detective Comics 859

by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

We’re still in the past, going back to see Kate Kane uphold the honor code of the Army. Unfortunately, that means she has to be honest and admit her sexual preference. Her father respects her decision in a well-written bit, and we fast-forward to the time she meets Renee Montoya. Unfortunately, Kate pushes her away too, leaving us not too much in the way of feeling sympathy for our main character. We end with her first exposure to Batman, and next issue will probably delve into this inspiration for her to become a crime-fighter.

In the present, Batwoman has confirmed that the blood from Alice matches that of her sister, whom she believed to be dead for many years. This new knowledge makes the prophecy from the crime bible fit better regarding the “twice-named daughter of Cain,” as Alice makes up the second person out of the twins. Williams alters his style for the different time periods, making for a very pleasant read.

Rucka and Cully Hamner are still trying to give us a second feature with the Question, but the parallels of yet another lesbian crime-fighter who has an older white male as her logistics and support system is getting old. She calls the Huntress in as backup for a mission against organized crime. The art is still sub-par, and the plot is boring. They gave us ten pages, and half of it was poor action scenes against thugs. I would have preferred 22 pages of Detective instead of 20, if this was our choice.

Green Lantern

by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Larfleeze and Atrocitus are fighting each other and fighting to survive when the rest of the Color Corps catches up to them. It takes some doing to get everybody to fall into line, including one of the Guardians for the Blue Corps to promise to serve Larfleeze after it’s all over. Larfleeze steals the show, with a character that is not really seen anywhere else in comics. He’s potentially deadly, but amusingly honest without you feeling that he’s about to attack you, and he doesn’t come with that silly sense that you get from someone like G’nort.

We also learn that Abin Sur was Indigo-1’s savior. Doug Mahnke gives us some great art that is totally in service to the story, helping it to flow smoothly. The coloring maintains its excellence, which is a greater necessity with this type of story, and everything flows perfectly into Blackest Night #5.

Justice League of America 39

by James Robinson and Mark Bagley

Leave it to Robinson to mess up even a Blackest Night story, when every other creative team is taking this concept and knocking it out of the park. The opening revival of Vibe is fine, but it takes six entire pages after that just to set the scene and introduce Zatarra. I have no idea from where they got the body, but the story takes a nosedive when he casts a spell, and Zatanna says backwards, “Undo that spell.” Except his spell never happened, so there’s nothing for her to “undo,” showing Robinson’s sloppy display of the English language.

It doesn’t end there, as their entire struggle turns into a lame “am not!” vs. “are too!” battle of magic backwards words. Four pages of her canceling his spells in the most unimaginative way that reminds me of the Magic: The Gathering card game, where we had to establish a large chain of rules to resolve the Instants, but Interrupts could break into those, so we had rules for the Instants, the Interrupts, and how they all resolved against each other in reverse order. It was a headache and having to read “undo his hex" and “recant his hex" backwards multiple times makes this the most boring magic battle ever.

Wait, it gets worse. The rest of the team leaves her alone to do the battle!?! You had five other heroes with a chance to distract him and prevent him from talking, and they all just leave her there. Even Robinson isn’t that stupid, so he at least has them discuss the wisdom of doing that, but they still arrive at the wrong conclusion. Think about it: you’re fighting new enemies and you don’t know what-all they can do, your friend comes under attack, and instead of helping… you leave her behind in some urgent need to find still more enemies to fight?!? It’s the most ridiculous incident in comics this entire month.

Then Kimiyo, their only light source, abandons the rest of the team too to go fight by herself. The rest get attacked by Vibe and Steel. Why would you not just take out Zatarra and then continue in full force? It’s like they’re still trying hard to prove to us that this team is a bunch of idiot losers. I am rapidly losing any desire to read anything by James Robinson ever again.

Justice Society of America 33

by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, and Jesus Merino

The intended momentous occasion is let down by an average story. Sturges and Willingham had to craft a reason for the team to split, but the emotion is not really there. The All-American Kid turns out to be Karnevil in disguise, and he is revealed to have been the actual enemy all the time, so he wasn’t possessed by anyone. Somehow, despite modern technology, no member of the team figured it out but Mr. Terrific appears and magically figures it out without showing us how. Karnevil somehow had the knowledge that Terrific was the only threat of exposure, and tried to take him out. This, too, is not explained very much.

The fight scenes are okay, but we have a full page of Dr. Fate’s spell, and then we don’t get to see the effect actually happening. When we turn the page, all the villains are already out of commission, and we have to have Fate explain what he did. That’s just poor storytelling. Then we go back to Flash’s narration, talking about how they won. What did they win? They corralled a dozen bad guys, but didn’t bother to chase after the rest. Karnevil successfully steals Obsidian, and admits that the attack by all the other villains was simply a coincidence, and that he doesn’t have anything to do with that part. How is any of this a win?

The awkwardness continues when Magog mentions that an Army officer would lose his rank if he were in command, and Power Girl sides with him. Power Girl, the same person who WAS the field commander! Magog directs his anger at the ‘council of elders,’ Jay, Alan and Ted instead. They announce the need to split up.

At the end of the day, Power Girl should have been defending her leadership decisions, and has no business siding with Magog. It’s like deposing the manager for running your business into the ground, and then forming a new company… with the same person as your CEO. It makes no sense. This is supposed to pave the way for the JSA All-Stars title, so hopefully many of these characters will get better screen time, but the story used here to perform the split was amateur hour I can only hope it improves. To think this was one of my favorite titles last year, and to see it crash so spectacularly so fast, is depressing. Good art, at least.

The prospect of two major plots unfurling at the exact same moment is stretching things a little too much for me that I have to raise the issue again. This will probably be a plot in one of the two series, to figure out who set these bounties on their heads. Just like with Karnevil, the lack of clues does not endear the reader to enjoy this particular journey.

Superman 694

by James Robinson and Renato Guedes

Mon-el is back from his imprisonment, and his first stop was to see Ma Kent, giving him some interaction with Conner too. Too bad that the artist gives us no backgrounds for most of the conversation. I have to assume the Kent house has no wall hangings or anything, it’s so boring. Robinson switches between Mon-el fighting Bizarro and the older scene at the Kent farm in an attempt to shake thing up, but it reads awkwardly. It’s ordered so poorly, we see Mon-el for the entire issue in his new costume before we learn near the end that Ma Kent is the one who did the sewing. Granted, we knew it would be her anyway, but it’s really a poor choice to order the sequence that way.

We learn that Matter-Eater Lad is one of the other Legionnaires hidden in the past, and a crisis is made just so he can reveal himself, and the Parasite comes out of nowhere to steal Mon-el’s powers away without even touching Mon-el. We saw the Parasite/Bizarro combination relatively recently in Alex Ross’ Justice series, so to see it again feels like a re-run. Other than Tenzil’s reveal, there is almost nothing of consequence in this issue.

Teen Titans 77

by J. T. Krul and Javier Pina

Wintergreen provides the opening download sequence for a Black Lantern ring, and the flashback reminds us of all of the relevant characters that we will also see later. Slade Wilson’s character is handled well, better than the distorted nonsense they tried in his ‘Faces of Evil’ one-shot. The first Ravager arrives to attack, and Rose goes from trying to kill Slade herself, to rescuing him from Grant. It might have been better to hear an explanation from her, because her sole focus lately has been getting Slade dead; it’s the biggest hole in the story.

The other Ravager Wade also comes back, and rose burns him, but out pops Jericho! That was a slightly unsuspected surprise, and it has me interested, at least. Bennett is very good for the art, whether it’s zombies, the outside of a mansion, or the characters themselves. Unlike some of the other artists mentioned on this page, he always keeps in mind the surroundings, showing us the walls and books and tables around them. I appreciate that kind of effort.

Wonder Woman 38

by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti

The mess continues, with Alkyone giving the order for Diana to be executed. Achiles says he gave no order, and Alkyone says the queen is the person allowed to give that order under Amazon law. That would be nice to have it end there, but then she keeps trying to talk him into executing Diana. Excuse me, but if the queen can give the order and there is no provision for the king to do it, why does she spend two more pages arguing with him, to execute her? It’s total nonsense.

The bait and switch is revealed when Alkyone kills one of her own women. Donna Troy has gone off to find and rescue Hippolyta, and just when Artemis and the others are about to attack, Achilles finds Diana still in her cell. He frees Diana, who goes to attack Alkyone, who reveals she got married all to engineer a war between the sexes, to clear the island of men. Some sort of deal makes the Cottus come out of hiding and confront Diana. Cottus was dead a long time ago during Perez’s run on the title, but the clay used to form her was from the same cave area where he dwelled, in case any newcomers are completely lost. Lopresti gives his best with what he’s given, and much of it looks great, but the story is so inconsistent it’s painful.

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