Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly DC Comics Review – Part 1

Batman 697

by Tony Daniel

Batman calls in all of his friends, and Tony Daniel gives us a nice two-page splash of nine heroes that populate Gotham city. The place is getting crowded! Daniel has learned to use Grayson-as-Batman well, depicting him with more athletic, gymnastic movements, showing more finesse than the way we grew used to seeing Bruce Wayne. It’s a nice touch, and noticeable only to longtime fans. A lesser artist wouldn’t have thought to bother.

Dr. Death and Progessor Strange are easily dismissed, and Batman battles through to take out Black Mask, who is unmasked as Dr. Jeremiah Arkham. This review is on Sunday night, so hopefully there’s no one who picked up comics Wednesday and still hasn’t read them! It’s an okay story overall, but I can’t help but feel that they have acted prematurely and gotten rid of a complex character who was well-placed in charge of Arkham Asylum, and able to add more drama to the backdrop of Gotham. Now he’s just another psycho.

We also get the treat of seeing Catwoman’s new sidekick, Catgirl, although I can’t help but think she’ll get shot soon, trying to be a thief at night while wearing bright pink on her costume and boots. I mean, that’s just ridiculous. In the final analysis, Tony Daniel makes a great artist, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him on Batman for a while. The writing is just a little below average, though. He has grown in the short time he has been at it, so perhaps he can get better, but if it was him just writing and not doing art, I wouldn’t pick up a title with his name on the credits as writer.

Booster Gold 30

by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Norm Rapmund

Booster falls for it again! Sondra Crain holds up a young girl and tugs at his heart strings, and Booster decides he wants to try defying history yet again. Skeets runs a check and finds out there is no record of the girl dying with Coast City, so he pushes Crain and the girl through a portal into her ‘true’ time era. Meanwhile, Jerry Ordway steps in to do the art for the Mongul and Cyborg superman sections, being very studious and making sure to portray the scenery very close to what it was in the original comic stories all those years ago.

A mysterious figure is present. I spotted him last issue, walking around with a sign that said, “The end is near.” The art was just too good for that to be a throwaway! He reveals powers that nudge Booster along the right path, to help him reunite with Michelle. Skeets looks up Michelle’s boyfriend, Drew, and states that he did not survive the destruction of Coast City. Before Booster can do anything else, he tries to send them through time. The stranger nudges Booster into the time portal, knocking Drew out and leaving him behind, engineering things so that the people history says died at Coast City still do, while Booster and Michelle make it to safety.

The issue has the feel of finality to it, as Booster takes off, declaring that he needs time to think, to figure out what he will do next. The mysterious stranger shows up at Vanishing Point with Rip, revealing himself to be…(SPOILERS AHEAD)

…future-Booster Gold! This is the father that Rip knows, a Booster that is older and wiser, and still running around behind the scenes helping to fix time (and Hypertime, which gets a reference). Still the greatest hero never known, even to the current Booster. There is reference to a simmering conflict, and next issue will probably focus on Michelle, as the creative team makes way for Keith Giffen to take the reins. 30 issues in, and the two creative teams have been great. Jurgens and Rapmund have put together some great stuff, and they can be proud of it. I’m actually a little apprehensive to see what Giffen does with this.

The Brave And The Bold 32

by J. M. Straczynski and Jesus Saiz

Did you ever think you’d see the day when B&B hit issue 32 again? I hope DC stays with this title and gives it a chance. In the old days, you might read an issue or two that seemed a bit of a stretch, but Straczynski has done great. He has excelled at choosing characters you wouldn’t normally think to put together, and have it all come out feeling like it’s perfectly natural. He does it again here with Aquaman and the Demon.

One of Straczynski’s strengths is his willingness to alter the viewpoint. He does it more than the average writer; here the storyteller is a regular guy who got caught in the middle of something huge. We start with him apparently committing an act of desecration inn a graveyard. He tells his story to the police who catch him in the act.

We learn he is Whitford Crane, and his ship was destroyed, with his fellow crewmen killed. A lone survivor, he is discovered by the duo team of Aquaman and the Demon, who refuse to leave him behind. Demon gives him magical gills to breathe underwater, and Aquaman tells him the problem along the way. Turns out, a demon tries to cross over into our world every year, and there is a pact between these two, to meet and defeat it every time, to save both land and sea.

Saiz’s art is unreal! I really enjoy his underwater depiction of an entire city rising from the ocean floor, complete with an almost blur effect that is mentioned in the narration. The atmosphere feels dark and uninviting, and full of dread. The big bad monster himself is impressively gruesome. Aquaman summons the life of the sea to come to his aid and clear a path for the Demon, who issues the magical spell to defeat the monster.

Finally, Aquaman telepathically suggests to Whitford that it was all a dream. But Whitford encountered one of his fellow crewmen, a friend who had become part of an army of the undead in the sea. His former friend took a medal from around Whitford’s neck. It is that friend being dug up by Whitford, and the corpse does indeed have the medal in the palm of his hand. This gives Whitford the proof he needs to break Aquaman’s suggestion, and to unleash the full memory, to know he is not crazy and it wasn’t a dream. He is awed by the magnitude of what the two heroes do all the time.

There are two very cool things in this comic. One is the depiction of Aquaman. He is portrayed very well: a cool, collected, brave individual who commands the seas and the creatures in it. He is not overly arrogant, but he is self-assured, and even regal. The second thing is that Straczynski manages to depict a huge act of heroism as jut another annual chore, something that would beggar the minds of normal people to learn that they were constantly at risk of destruction, held at bay by the team of these two unlikely people. Did Aquaman ever tell anyone else of this threat? Does the threat still loom? And who meets to stop it these days, if anyone? Will this pop up again? Good stuff!

One of my favorite reads this week.

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