Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Adventure Comics 5

by Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, and Jerry Ordway

Ordway delivers some great scenes that provide for a battle with all of the Black Lanterns consisting of Superboy Prime’s victims the last few years. I have always been uncomfortable with the ‘Prime’ universe, liking it only as a fast-visited friend, such as in a classic JLA/JSA/All-Star Squadron team-up. Here, we take a trip into the DC offices and get a peek at a bunch of the talent that brings us our comics. Maybe it’s just too much of breaking the fourth wall after having to go through all of Grant Morrison’s experiments in Final Crisis, but I’m ready for Superboy Prime to meet his death anywhere, anytime.

In an interesting event, Prime puts on a black ring, but instead of dying right away, the ring itself seems to convert into different colors as it explores his psyche and brings forth the appropriate emotional response for the entire spectrum. Somehow he is able to wield those energies, and destroys his opponents. He ends up without a ring on his finger, and getting the happy ending he requested, with Laurie appearing before him and willing to be with him.

In a nice, eerie Halloween type of spooky ending, we get to see the black ring on Laurie’s finger. As unsettled as I normally am by stories with Superboy Prime, I really liked the ending here. Our buddy Ryan probably loved it.

The “regular” Superboy gets his own feature with art by Francis Manapaul, and he has his own Lori, who is a bit of a troublemaker. Lori turns out to be the niece of Lex Luthor, who has come hunting for Superboy. A nice dramatic revelation, driving up interest to see what happens next. The second feature aspect seems to work very well with this Adventure title, and I hope no matter what direction DC takes, they will keep eight pages in this title to explore different parts of the DC universe.

Booster Gold 27

by Dan Jurgens and Mike Norton

Mike Norton does the art for the first half of the comic, and Dan Jurgens handles the art for the second half. It all looks refreshingly well together, thanks to Norm Rapmund on inks the entire issue. Yet again we have30 pages of a continuous story instead of a second feature, and it is just great. If I could have this level of story and art, I would love to read 30-page stories for $3.99.

The ghost of Ted Kord is haunting Booster, in a scene that is familiar to everyone following DC’s company-wide event. As familiar as it is, it is still great to see each character attacked emotionally, to see the double whammy of a powerful foe and a guilt-trip, which every hero handles differently.

They give us a big reveal in choosing to let us see Rip hunter tell a vanished-Booster that he will understand the cryptic methods Rip has used with booster, and lets slip that Booster is Rip Hunter’s true father! I’m not sure whether I like that or not, but it is a good juicy revelation. Meanwhile, Booster uses an invention of the real Ted Kord to duplicate the light effect that destroys Black Lanterns. Jamie Reyes is there the entire time to help out as the new Blue Beetle, and we also get to see where Booster’s sister Michelle disappeared to when she went on her time-traveling alone-time. Good stuff all the way through.

R.E.B.E.L.S. 11

by Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

In true form, Dox becomes a Yellow Lantern and his first act is one of insubordination, as he ignores pre-recorded marching orders from Sinestro. He orders the other heroes to get clear while he tackles Stealth, and Harbinger kills another Yellow Lantern. You almost feel sorry for the remaining two, who we learn are brand-new recruits, the previous ones killed by Harbinger! As many people as there are in this title, they all get some screen time, and the massive cast is handled well. The momentary glimpse of wariness and fear that Stealth causes in Vril Dox is awesome.

Starro’s super-soldiers have almost all become Black Lanterns, which only makes Starro happy to have a challenge for a change, and Dox cobbles together a Wildstar/Adam Strange combo that might mimic the disruption effect upon the Black Lanterns. Too bad it gets interrupted. Even in the midst of possible destruction, Lyrl still chooses to adopt his Brainiac 3 name, signifying to his father that he prefers to side with Starro still. Dox uses his ring to round up all the Black Lanterns and Lyrl, and shove them through Lyrl’s teleporter-type portal, leaving Starro with the headache.

In a great moment, Vril finally shows some emotion at the loss of his son, at what he sees as betrayal, and immediately loses his yellow ring for continued insubordination. They also give us a glimpse of some storylines for 2010, and it all looks great. Time will tell if the Blackest Night crossover helps more fans to discover this excellent series.

Titans 20

by Mike Johnson and Sergio Ariño

The first page takes us on a quick romp through the four main eras of Donna Troy’s heroic identity, as this issue gives us a focus on her. It goes off the rails with a flash back to a now-defunct civilian identity that does not raise any alarm bells in her head as it ought to do. Ariño gives us a sexy Donna in a red dress who is suddenly ill at ease among a crowd of party-goers, but this makes no sense. Johnson references her past job as a photographer, a profession in which she handled prima-donna (pardon the pun) supermodels with ease. This idea was used with Dick Grayson recently, to hint that he would be nervous in a business setting, but it was dumb then, and it’s dumb here. These are world saviors who have handled the more mundane elements of civilian life for years. It’s a waste of our time to pretend they feel nervous about something as simple as going to a party! I mean, come on!

The whole affair was set up as a trap by the Fearsome Five, who have a mysterious benefactor who will pay them to take down the Titans. For once, they show some brains and try to take Donna down on her own. In a small bit of lameness during the fight scene, donna’s new crush hits Mammoth on the back of the head with a barstool, and the art seems to show that it hurts Mammoth, which it shouldn’t. Somehow, this gnat of a distraction was enough to take all five pairs of eyes off of Donna and allow her to escape.

After that, Donna dispatches each member of the Five with relative ease, even though Mammoth has proven a big challenge for her in the past. No explanation for why Jinx holds back and waits to attack until all four of her allies are unconscious, but those are normal holes for an average super-hero plot. Good writers handle the stage direction better. Mike Johnston still needs improvement.

All in all, it wouldn’t be considered a bad issue, and it’s better than Arsenal’s close-up, and Beast Boy’s, for that matter. However, Donna has serious identity issues that put most of DC’s characters to shame. Much of it was not referenced here, and we have seen focuses on Donna Troy in the past that still hold the standard for her treatment. This doesn’t really come close. Longtime fans of the Titans have simply seen her handled in a much more meaningful way than this.

the Unwritten 8

by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Governor Chadron gets a featured look, and we get to see the magic that the Tommy Taylor books have had upon his relationship with his children. The accusations against the real Tom Taylor have soured him because of the implications for his children when they might someday learn the “truth” behind the stories, and it affects how he treats Tom and the attempt on Tom’s life. Of course, his actions might have been the same, considering he is the one giving the assassins access to the prison to try again to kill Tom!

The children get a lot of screen time, and we see that they have been drinking all the Kool-Aid they can to live out the Harry Potter-esque stories. Their mother is the voice of reason, but far too little. Chadron is reluctant to make them break with their activities, despite the fact that the daughter Cosi actually tries a magical spell at school and pokes a boy’s eye! (Another bully gets a quick knee to his groin, too, but I’m not sure why she uttered a magical spell for that one…)

The interest picks up at the end, when the children overhear Chadron talking on his phone to go let the assassins in. The wise children quickly figure out that Chadron must be under somebody’s spell, and it is up to them to foil Count Ambrosio’s trap and rescue Tommy Taylor. Peter Gross’ art carries you through the story seamlessly, and Mike Carey is proficient with the story that you just don’t know if the kids might start using spells that actually work. The mystery and intrigue are still heightened, and the next couple of issues should help to unveil some of it. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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