Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 2

Arkham Reborn 2

by David Hine and Jeremy Haun

Everything keeps going wrong for the new facility, but Alyce is the one responsible for the sabotage. Black Mask is using her for his own reasons. It is a little strange for the sabotage and mocking to be so blatant, but Dr. Arkham doesn’t really convey that he senses much danger to himself.

The art style lends to the slightly spooky atmosphere, and the constant feeling of dread, and we end with a riot. The inmates are blatantly provoked, under the guise of Amadeus Arkham. This series makes for excellent reading, with things happening fast, and potentially having a consequence on the future of Gotham, depending on how things turn out.

Blackest Night 5

by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

The Color Corps charge up their batteries and aim to cut the head off of this giant snake, but Flash is actually the first one to encounter Nekron. Wally shows up to help Barry out of the jam, but a non-regular reader might have to study the panel to make sure there are two different people there at first, as most readers are used to seeing multiple flashes being the same guy in a single panel to represent the speed (“No confusion” my left buttock, Didio!). Wally brings the JLA and the Titans with him, while elsewhere Atom and Mera are shrunken own and taken into one of the black rings.

One method for destroying the Black Lanterns is finally able to be used again, as Dove can disrupt the connection with her physical touch. Just then Hal arrives with the cavalry, but the multiple colored rings don’t disrupt anything; Black Hand claims it’s making Nekron stronger. Whoops. (Ooh, I can’t wait for Black Hand to team up with Black Glove and Black Mask!)

A ring finally goes on the corpse of Bruce Wayne, and he throws other rings at those heroes who have "died” previously. There is still some doubt, since Nekron mentions that “Bruce Wayne” has served his purpose, with those quotation marks, making me wonder if that was a stunt, or if that’s really the skull of Bruce Wayne. Regardless, the heavy hitters like Superman and Wonder Woman turn into Black Lanterns, showing a stronger capability of these devices. You don’t have to be “currently dead” to be susceptible to their influence. Whoops again. We end with two rings chasing after Barry and Hal. (Head to the DC message boards if you want to see the fun that fans are having in trying to figure out whether it's really Wayne's corpse or not.)

I have no clue what will happen next, but it’s all great. The art is delicious, especially the corpse-Batman. Score this as another flawless episode in what is already destined to be a classic saga.

Justice League: Cry for Justice 5

by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli

Hey, it’s time for the latest representative of months-late comics! The title with the duplicate word in its mini-series title, because you just can’t have the word ‘justice’ mentioned enough! Cascioli gets to have fun showing Donna Troy and Starfire lounging around Buddy Baker’s house in scantily-clad pool outfits, despite the fact that Ellen actually had some issues at the time with Buddy being so close to the sensual alien Starfire. Mikaal and Congo Bill show up to enlist Buddy’s aid in the fight, and the two Titans volunteer as well. Cut scene to: yet another argument. Because a title meant to mention twice that the series should be about justice… well, it really needs the heroes to stand around… yet again… and yell at each other. Sigh.

The plot goes sideways with Prometheus deciding to do just what has been happening in every other title lately: villains attacking in several places to occupy their time and distract from the real threat. The JSA Vs. Kobra mini-series had this theme, the recent JSA plot had something close to it, and the New Avengers just did it this week, too. We get a bunch of rarely-seen villains and a few scarcely-seen heroes every now and then facing off. The weird thing is, these half dozen scenes show that OTHER heroes are defeating them with no problem, leaving this massive amalgamation of the JLA, the Titans, and, well, another JLA team, to try to focus on the “real threat.”

In another example of Robinson practicing an offensive delay of game, he spends more time having the Shade and Jay Garrick being brought into the mix, and we are told the loser villain Plunder was defeated trying to set up a device. The device, which is not functional, is diagnosed to be able to teleport an entire city. Would you really trust Plunder to set up part of your master plan? Really?

So in this issue, issue #5, everyone finally meets up and realizes they are all gunning for Prometheus. Yay, only two more issues for them to actually go do something, I can hardly wait! From out of nowhere, Freddy (the current Captain Marvel) disappears, goes on a rampage, and seriously messes up Red Arrow. The art is awesome, better than most previous issues, and we get a better sense of movement from Cascioli this time. Some of the poses are a little too contrived for my taste, but of greater concern is Freddy going loco at random. Of course it will turn out to be part of Prometheus’ plot, but again we have a case where the writer did not give us any clues ahead of time, ad we usually appreciate a good bit of foreshadowing. Better than Supergirl’s lame comment, anyway: ”Where did Freddy go?” Is that the best Robinson can do? Didn’t I mention something earlier about being really tired of his miserable writing? Reinforced.

Madame Xanadu 17

by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley

Ah, a change of pace from the capes, as we get a coherent plot. Xanadu tries to delve into the mystery of the mystical assault on Betty Reynolds. Her investigation leads her to a satanic cult, and a run-in with J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter. In a disappointing moment that dashes myhopes for this week, they misspell “ordinary,” proving that the Vertigo line has no better editors and spell-checkers than any other aspect of Marvel or DC. It’s getting worse month after month. Am I really asking too much, for them to put out a measly 22 pages without a spelling error?

The true enemy is revealed to be Morgaine Le Fey, the villain we saw recently in the pages of Trinity. Hadley’s art is clean and fun, and Wagner’s tale is moving along at a good pace. It’s not five issues out of seven of people standing around talking and arguing, and that’s a good thing.

Superman: Secret Origin 3

by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Gary Frank is doing great as an artist. His rendering of Clark still shows a trace of Christopher Reeve in it, and the real magic to this story is in the expressions, body language, and mannerisms of the characters, and Frank excels in this comic. For a classic story that everyone pretty much knows already, it is still a treat to see this version of it. The writing and the art are both endearing to the subject of Superman’s origin. Looking at it a second time, some pages are unusually laden with dialogue, but I didn’t notice at first, meaning it’s all good stuff.

Johns captures the innocence of Jimmy Olsen, the disguise of Clark Kent, and the commanding presence and investigative reporter grit of Lois Lane very well, while giving us classic scenes. When they are done this well, it seems like we will never tire of seeing this familiar story. He was the first among heroes, and he was the best, and if they would try to put some of this into the movie format, they might not be having so much trouble trying to make a decent film.

World’s Finest 2

by Sterling Gates and Ramon Bachs

The Guardian captures the new Robin during a fight with criminals, but only because Damian wants him to do that, so Damian can get close to question a crook about some Waynetech gear. The subsequent chase leads them to the Parasite and Mr. Freeze, and a plot to capture Mon-el so Parasite can feed off of his energy for a while. The two defeat the villains, who are rescued secretly (and immediately) by Toyman.

I have an issue with this, er, issue, but not with the art. Bachs gives Damian his won look with that haircut, and the angles and lighting are very interesting visually, giving us some great shots that flow nicely and add to the storytelling effort. The issue I have is slight, with Robin representing the Bat-family, but are we supposed to have Guardian represent the “Super” half of this Finest team-up? Because that’s a stretch for me. All said and done, this issue was better than the first, and if the quality is as good for the next two, I would give this a solid recommendation.

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