Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 2

Batman: Streets of Gotham 8

by Mike Benson and Dustin Nguyen

Groan! Paul Dini has disappeared (again!), and this feels like a filler story. Nguyen’s constant reliance on black to hide the chance to give us more details is starting to grate on me. Benson wastes our time using dated movie references, evoking Taxi Driver, and I was three years old when that movie came out. Now I’ve seen it, and I’m familiar with the character, but most younger people won’t catch the reference. It’s not the proper thing to put in a comic book story: if you’re going to use dated references, at least have the courtesy to either explain them, make fun of them, or make them closer to modern day. Preferably you should do all three at once. Actually, preferably he shouldn’t have done it at all. Wait, he also uses a Pamela Anderson reference later, firmly marking is writing as at least a decade out of touch.

The writing does not improve, as Jim Gordon makes a crack about it being a sad day for pole dancers when he learns that a victim was a plastic surgeon. This is not the polite, diplomatic Gordon we all know. We end with Grayson going undercover to check a club that all the victims have in common, and linking up with a possible lady that provides the common link. They go to a hotel room, and a new guy looks at his watch outside their room before he busts it down. That’s where we get the ‘to be continued’ blurb. Yeah, it was that bad.

Yet again, the second feature is better than the main event. Marc Andreyko has Manhunter throw Two-Face off a roof to escape from Batman. In an interesting use of Jeremiah Arkham, the doctor comes in and testifies that Two-Face can be considered mentally fit enough to act as his own counsel, as long as he has a pristine coin to help maintain his Harvey Dent persona. Manhunter gets nowhere as Spencer trying to get Jane to testify against Two-Face, but Jane gets delivered to Two-Face’s cell for an offer from him. And that’s how you end with a cliffhanger! Mike Benson could learn a little. Do I really want to spend $3.00 to get a few good pages of Manhunter? Because that’s what I’m doing now. I feel my wallet arguing against me when I go to pick it up…

The Brave And The Bold 31

by J. M. Straczynski, Chad Hardin, and Justiano

Straczynski writes some really good parts into this, with Atom trying to ride through a cell phone line and getting hurt, as the caller forgot to use a land line. Awesome! He also glosses over how Atom breathes, since he’s going to be smaller than oxygen molecules: “It works, that’s all.” Straczynski knows when is a proper time to give a scientific example, and when for the purposes of a story, it’s best to be sarcastic or whimsical.

The plot involves the Atom being the only one small enough to deliver a guided package to help save the Joker, inside his body. Some neural activity links up Atom to some of the Joker’s memories, and we learn that the Joker wants the rest of the world to be just like him, and on the day the world kills the Joker, he will know he has won. Turns out, the Atom had been contemplating the idea of not trying quite so hard to rescue the guy, but from the Joker’s own words, the Atom knows he would become just as bad as the Joker in a way if he let the guy die.

The art is cool, especially when the artists are let loose to depict some of the madness and gruesome memories of the Joker. Ordinary parts like the operating room, and sometimes the Atom himself, are fairly bland. The story is a nice twist on the normal “Don’t kill him, or you’ll be just like him,” as we learn the lesson from the villain himself mentally, not from an outside source. There is still a common theme running through Straczynski’s B&B issues, close to an after-school special movie in that they are all trying to have a moral point, and not being all that subtle about it, but you know what? They actually read fairly well despite that, and we’re not getting this type of stuff anywhere else, so it’s a good change of pace to read one of these in place of yet another grim-n-gritty story where everyone insists the world is grey, and morality is relative.

It is worthwhile to point out that the Atom seems a little too bloodthirsty for the prospect of the Joker's death, rather than just mildly hopeful or indifferent. That point may have been hit a little too hard, especially given all the recent emphasis on Atom's capacity for compassion that has him wearing an indigo ring right now in Blackest Night. But maybe he wasn't so compassionate back in the day, and this episode took place in the past?

Outsiders 26

by Dan Didio, Philip Tan, and Don Kramer


The question mark should not have been at the end of the Outsiders on the cover, it should have been after Superman, because we get to see the Eradicator on the last page of the issue. That’s it. What a cheap, misleading, stupid piece of advertising. If anyone picked it up and bought it just for a Superman guest appearance, I suspect they will be returning it for a refund. I sorta want to myself, but I chose to get it just to see what Didio did.

Geo-Force has become the main focus overnight, and sounding more like Doctor Doom than anyone else. The scene switch to Katana and Black Lightning hits us over the head with a hammer time and time again that Jeff has a problem with Katana’s willingess, even eagerness, to kill. It’s like they have reverted Katana back to her very beginnings, with none of what she has learned over the years on how to disarm and fight without killing. Now she is suddenly bloodthirsty.

The art is lazy. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen from Philip Tan. The chance to show us a ship environment was ruined by a bunch of night-blue raining, with almost no sense of size or dimension of what was around the characters. We have two pages of Metamorpho trying to talk to the Creeper in his alter-ego, but I can’t tell if they are using the redhead at the end of it as a punch-line, or the setup for an actual sub-plot. We end with Brion announcing a treaty with New Krypton, and the Eradicator is the alleged representative.

The art is confusing, because Philip Tan and Don Kramer are both outstanding artists on their own, but the melding doesn’t look anything like them. If this was truly them, their styles do not complement each other at all! Kramer did not get a cover credit, but inker Jonathan Glapion did. Michael Babinski is also getting an inking credit, and it seems like there are already too many cooks in the kitchen.

I don’t have any special axe to grind with Didio, but man did I NOT enjoy this comic. If he keeps this up, I will have a big problem with him. This is not nearly anything like I thought he meant when he gave interviews about his plans for the team. The concepts are all there, but poorly executed.

Superman/Batman 68

by Joe Casey and Ardian Syaf

It’s hard to figure out what DC is doing with this title. It has the look and feel of a filler story, done a while ago. It is supposed to be an add-on to the ‘Our Worlds At War’ storyline, but it doesn’t have a good recap page to tell newer readers what that actually was. Syaf gives us some nice art, at least. Joe Casey writes on auto-pilot, giving us a lame throwaway villain for a page or two called “Death-Man,” who falls into a death-like meditation whenever he gets caught. Ooh, scary!

The rest of the issue is an okay romp, trying to determine the truth behind the Kryptonian spaceship that showed up last issue. We get a little lamer as Casey brings in a hired killer looking reminiscent of Wildfire from the Legion of Super-Heroes in his original appearance. Drake was called ERG-1 then, and this villain is called NRG-X. It’s derivative, and that puts me off, combined with Death-Man. If DC can’t do any better than filler stories relating to events that have been done with for years, they should put this series to sleep, despite the nice art. Death-Man. Geesh!

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