Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 2

Blackest Night 6

by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

The black rings have taken over the bodies of almost every hero dead, and now some have gotten hold of those who died and came back. Given the history of death and resurrection in DC, that means a ton of living, breathing heroes have suddenly become Black Lanterns. Barry and Hal outrun the black rings with their names on them, and Atom and Mera jump out of the strange place inside the rings, just as the Xanshi population chases John Stewart into Earth’s proximity. You know, that’s a lot of things that happen, but they are covered in nice splash pages and very nice detail in a quick fashion.

But wait, there’s more! Ganthet deputizes himself as a Green Lantern, and successfully duplicates all of the other rings, as they are based on Oan technology, and have a hidden safeguard. All of this is simply a holding action as they try to wait for reinforcements, but it is much easier to believe this sudden magic than Red Robin’s grotesque ability to blow up every League of Assassins base on Earth by pressing one button, and setting it up all under the nose of people who openly distrusted him and watched his every move. But I digress…

The rest of the issue shows us who the rings choose to deputize, and the choices make sense for the most part. You can quibble on one or two, maybe come up with a better contender, but probably not when considering the range: the rings went after the closest suitable candidate. Flash’s Blue Lantern mantra at the end, “all will be well,” was awesome.

We are being given a relatively fast-moving story in cinematic style that still manages to convey a lot of information with minimal exposition, letting the dramatic pictures hit home the meaning of what transpires. The characterization is spot-on, showing us a quick glimpse of each person, but helping us to understand the essential features of each one. Plus, Wonder Woman’s new outfit is sexy on her. Still awesome art, and the story is holding steady as an instant classic.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman 2

by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Eduardo Pansica

For those who might be confused, last issue had Wonder Woman beating Max Lord, and this issue doesn’t have a transition. It picks up right in the middle of Blackest Night #6, showcasing Mera’s fight with Diana. So if you got them both, read to where Mera meets Diana, and read this comic, then go back to the other issue. It flows better that way, actually.

Rucka takes us on a journey of Wonder Woman as a Black Lantern, since as mentioned above, the black rings can take over those who have died and come back. Diana swiftly cuts up all of her opponents, but that includes fellow Black Lantern Donna Troy, and I can’t figure out that part easily. Then it gets weird. After Diana kills her mother, an apparition of a living Bruce Wayne Batman shows up and kisses her. That is enough to bring her out. It turns out, Aphrodite intervened and made a mental landscape for Diana to play out her possession. What does this mean for the battle with Mera did it even take place? Unknown. The purple ring deputizes her as a member of the Star Sapphires just in time.

Nicola Scott’s artwork is in high form. I’m not sure if it’s the helping artist or the two inkers, but it’s her best that I can remember. The coloring choices are perfect, and the inking is exceptional. Rucka chose to rely on only verbal exposition, so there is certainly a case to be made that he could have been clearer on the events by coming right out and telling us. As it is, it leaves the overall narrative a bit disjointed, and the reader grasping a tiny bit to make sure everything can be properly interpreted.

All in all, a nice visual, with a story that is open to a couple of interpretations.

Suicide Squad 67

by Gail Simone, John Ostrander, and J. Calafiore

In an attempt to impress upon readers that Secret Six is an appropriate heir to the Suicide Squad title, even though there haven’t been that many deaths for the Six, and the Secret Six refer to an entirely different previous organization… we have this story. It succeeds at first glance, but contains all of the old problems with the Six title at the same time. Which probably means I like all the Ostrander bits, and have problems with the parts where Simone handled her own characters.

For instance, Scandal is a ruthless murderer, but she meekly submits to Bane’s orders, sounding like a petulant teenager. Yet, when it comes time for a date, she puts the foot down and backs Bane off. So when it comes to a date… she has a spine. When it comes to everything else, she gives up? Makes no sense. The internal tension of Black Alice might not communicate to newer readers, or people who are unfamiliar with her situation, and why she might have a special problem rescuing a drug lord.

In the parts where older Squad characters appear, the story glows. The scene with Waller outside Scandal's hole is awesome. Count Vertigo’s appearance is fun. The Bronze Tiger could have used ten more pages, but we get two panels, which is a shame. Flag’s scene with Deadshot was great. All of this shows a confrontation between the two teams.

Next issue, we revert to the Secret Six title, and the Black Lanterns that can be associated with these two teams will enter the fray. I find myself enjoying Calafiore’s art here more than any other place I can recently remember. The overall effect is yet another good story, but with some nonsense relating to Scandal sill clinging to the edges. Why is she around if she has been kicked off the team by Bane? Nonsense.

Weird Western Tales 71

by Dan Didio and Renato Arlem

In older days, I would have skipped this title. Even though some of my most-loved comics from my childhood were westerns, I still had a preference to read the capes. Still, Didio will write the Outsdiers, and I was curious to see how he would do. I also appreciate the theme Dc tried, by resurrecting some older series in the middle of a meta-event about resurrection. I think it’s a clever idea, and not over-hyped like many other things. At the very least, it’s a fun once-and-done experiment. Still, I expected this to be one the weirder comics (pun not intended).

Simon Stagg shows up with the Ray to have Joshua Turnbull use some specialized equipment to analyze a captive black ring. Other nearby Black Lanterns are sensing some good emotions, or maybe they did come for the ring as Turnbull surmises. Joshua is the descendant of Quentin Turnbull, an old adversary of Jonah Hex. I’m not too up on that part, but it was conveyed well enough in the course of the story. You also get a clear idea of what kind of man Joshua is, especially when he sacrifices his assistant. He’s willing to admit many things, but in the end, he is only out for himself.

Didio spends a little too much time having the characters restate the obvious action, which is a common mistake that a good editor should drum out of him. Arlem’s art is serviceable, but somehow not “dirty” enough to give you a chill when we finally see Hex. It’s like he would have been scarier in the flesh, and Arlem can’t make a comparably scarier corpse out of Hex. Which is kind of a neat compliment to the character of Hex himself, I think.

In the end, the bad guys win, but they win out over a guy who was not very good himself, but what do you expect from a Weird Western story? Turns out this was an okay read, better than I expected, but not great. If you have extra cash, it’s worth a gander. I give props to DC for their clever tie-in scheme with these old titles, and additional points for daring to dredge up what can easily be considered obscure characters that few of us really express much of an interest in these days. There wasn’t much for Didio to risk in that sense, but I don’t think he gained a whole lot, except to say he has a chance at this stuff, and won’t necessarily be miserable on the Outsiders.

But I want someone GOOD on the Outsiders to make me care for them again, so I’m still not convinced he is the one to accomplish that.

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