Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DC Capsule Reviews Week 10 2008

Short-form reviews for DC and Wildstorm books which shipped Wednesday March 5th.

This week: Midnighter shuts up, the Atom examines deep inside himself, Karate Kid is redubbed Infectuous Lad, Raven goes Emo, Donna Troy cries a river, Nightwing frames Jimmy Olsen, Batman fades to white, Booster and Blue rule the day, and Wonder-Woman jumps out of a cake?!?

In more detail:


(Keith Giffen / Lee Garbett & Rick Burchett)

Midnighter fights some unnamed guy for about 20 pages. There's punching (x1000), kicking, knife throwing and use of refrigerators for purpose of blunt trauma. Then that other guy wins, puts on Midnighter's stuff and goes through a Door to the carrier. To Be Continued. There, now I've just saved you $2.99 and the ordeal of spending about 3 minutes of your time reading this issue and putting up with the amateurish art trying to fruitlessly emulate a Frank Quitely effect. You're most welcome!



(Rick Remender / Pat Olliffe & John Stanisci)

A new writer, a new artist and a new direction: inwards!? After Gail Simone wrapped up her run in an explosive way last month, Remender takes a more comfortable, sci-fi and exposition heavy approach to the title. The good news: the annoying science quotes are gone. Bad news: they've been replaced by endless (oh, and do I mean endless) first person narrative from the Atom; he muses about this and that and the other thing and doesn't seem to shut up. It's a good way to get an idea of the protagonist's thought process, and Remender has a good hold on how a scientist of genius level like Choi would react and think, but he does go over the top in many places. The Atom wants to discover conclusively if his size-changing technology is to blame for the craziness in his new hometown, so he shrinks down to explore inside his own blood cell sample! The writer does a great job of explaining away some o the pseudo-science here, enough to satisfy this scientist at least, until the very end where the concept of enlarging a nucleus to man-size and cutting open its electron cloud with a scalpel made me cringe. If you're aiming for a higher lever of sci-fi detail, you can't pick and choose where you apply it really. As for Pat Olliffe, he's a welcome upgrade over Mike Norton, with a grittier style than what we're sued to from him.I'm not sure I'm sold on this new approach here, as I already miss the quirky weirdness of Ivytown as it was conceptualized by Morrisson and Simone.


(Paul Dini / Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti / Carlos Magno)

Raise your hand if you breathed a sigh of relief when all the characters finally came together last issue and were getting ready for an 8-issue giga-battle to cap off this series! Heh. So much for hoping. This issue, the battle on Apokolips settles down with a whimper and the heroes are transported back ot Earth where they -shock- go their separate ways again, while the Atom has to find a cure for the cootie-bomb that is Karate Kid before he gives the entire Multiverse the flu. Plus, Bob the evil Monitor cackles a lot about his eeevil plan to turn Captain Atom into bad guy Monarch. It wasn't exactly subtle, bub. Too bad, and I was just beginning to have hopes for this wreck of a series.


(Marv Wolfman / Damion Scott & Robert Campanella)

The cover boasts: "Finally In Her Own Emo Series". No, really. It says that. Did Raven actually inspire the Emo movement? Was it a world first? Raven's creator, Marv Wolfman returns to the character for this mini, examining her new life as a 'normal' high-school teenager. Raven is plagued by prophetic dreams of a schoolmate dying from a sniper's bullet by week's end, while by day she herself suffers attacks from her peers' emotional fluxes. The shady government agents interludes didn't do much to grab my interest until the grand reveal of the Psycho Pirate's Medusa Mask opened up a whole can of possibilities. Unfortunately for the series, Wolfman here is paired with an artist entirely unsuitable for the project, as Damion Scott derives his style from grafitti and wall painting, giving the characters a fluid, smooth and 'hip hop' (ugh, i hate my own coined term) feel with the thick ink lines giving the impression the whole book was hastily drawn with a thick marker pen. Not really what you'd associate with the cold, pragmatic and organized Raven. As a result, the protagonist feels out of place in her own book. I don't need to spell out doom more clearly for this one.



(Peter Milligan / Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs)

Pete Milligan writes this aftermath issue of the Ressurection of Ra's Al Ghul, as Batman becomes obsessed with the Suit of Sorrows -the armour that Talia gifted him in the crossover- and its dark effect on his mood. Batman begins a trek to the suit's origins and discovers its bloody history from the time of the Crusades. I can't say I was too impressed with the revelations here, as by the end of the issue Batman doesn't really have the answers he set out to uncover but still decides to put the issue to bed. Milligan has a great grasp on the Dark Knight's psychology and mode of thought, I'd enjoy seeing him in a more regular role in the Bat-writers rotation. After suffering through the scripting chores of RoRAG, he more than deserves it!



(Darwyn Cooke / J. Bone / David Bullock)

Three new stories from the world of DC: The New Frontier just in time for the release of the animated movie based on the original material. In this world, DC's Silver Age super-heroes were debuted in 50s America, and gave fodder for some amazing insightful and fun yarns from the imagination of Darwyn Cooke. In the first story, written and drawn by Cooke himself, Superman is ordered by the President to take down the renegade Batman; Of course Batman isn't about to go down without a real fight, and we're served to a Bats-Supes battle that stands up to and surpasses the classic Miller recipe from Dark Knight Returns. The other two stories are only written by Cooke and illustrated by his associates, keeping to the same art style and feature Robin with Kid Flash taking down a dragstrip gang, and Wonder-Woman teaming up with Black Canary (in her first appearance in New Frontier) musing feminism and springing the Gotham City Playboy Club opening! The special is worth its money only for the shot of Diana springing from a cake and Black Canary dressed as a playboy bunny.



(Keith Giffen / Christopher Jones & Dan Davis)

Keith Giffen writes Blue Beetle and Booster Gold again! Of course, it's only the animated versions, trying desperately to impress their way onto the Jutice League by helping take in the Demolition Crew, so they can rake in the fame and cash and the chicas! You can just imagine how impressed Bats and Wonder Woman are gonna be with this. JLU is a Kid's comic, and done even simpler than Marvel's Adventures line, so there's no more meat to the story than the initial nostalgia jolt and a few chuckles here and there. I do miss my Giffen League! Why not have an off-continuity Earth 42 or something book where the Super-Buddies are still around and Giffen/DeMatteis are writing them?



(Peter Tomasi / Rags Morales)

Nightwing faces off a clandestine organisation making zombies out of dead super-villains and heroes, tracking down their origins to a familiar member of the Al Ghul family. Tomasi keeps Nightwing closely tied to both the Bat-family and the DC Universe (with Supes last issue and the JSA in this one), re-evaluating his exact place in the super-scale. We get a glimpse of a life outside the mask, and his relationship with 'younger brother' Tim/Robin, while oddly name-dropping recent Morrison storylines over in Batman for no apparent reason (I doubt Morrison needs Nightwing readers to support his sales). All said, Nightwing seems to be on the right track here, even establishing his very own potential action figure accessories with the Night-wing/Winger, just like Daddy Bruce. Rags Morales elevates the story here, although I still feel he's squandering his potential on such a low-tier title, when he really hasn't advantage of the huge boost Identity Crisis gave him to launch himself to superstar status. He should be drawing the JLA title or Batman's solo title, not Nightwing. Allowing a disconnected troupe of random inkers to finish off his pencil work isn't going to help things either of course.



(Kelley Puckett / Rick Leonardi & Dan Green)

This is the first I'm checking in on the new Supergirl writer, Kelley Puckett. Supergirl is almost killed by a Kryptonite bullet and then whisked away 400 years into the future by her would-be killer who bursts to tears and gives her the grand tour of her destiny: a world where everyone is a super-human, and a world she must not let come to pass. We get a glimpse of some self-indulging landscaping and a poorly-designed league of Bat-Men, but apart from being vaguely ominous, this story didn't touch any chords with me. Averting a future-gone-bad? Is that really what Supergirl is going to be about? DC has repeatedly lost the point with this title as writer after writer overshoots their aim, with the rare exception of Joe Kelly who almost got it -- for all of 2-3 issues. Can't we please see Super-girl be a teen first, have an actual life and a supporting cast outside of her two daddies and have her realize her potential in the world instead of wasting her time with run-of-the-mill storylines like this? Wildstorm does a better job with their own Super-girl equivalent, Jenny Quantum (just think age, power levels and parentage), it's quite ironic. I'll CC the link to Project Rooftop's brilliant Super-girl costume contest in case someone from DC is reading this and gets the message: Supergirl is a teen and an icon. You only need to get these two things down right, how hard can it really be.


TEEN TITANS YEAR ONE #3 (Amy Wolfram / Karl Keshl & Serge Lapointe & Steph Peru)

Wonder Girl joins the support group for abused sidekicks just in time for the Teens to form a plan and take on their possessed mentors down one by one and expunge the evil creepies that have taken over them. A ton of nice moments in this issue as well, with Wolfram balancing humour and drama from one panel to the next and Keshl proving the ideal artistic choice (obviously boosted by both the inker and colourist) by giving us the damn cutest Titans. Can we get some action figures from these designs, please? Aqualad just screams to be made into a plush toy! Favourite notes include Wonder-Girl's emotional burst (and the boys' reactions), Kid Flash's pet turtle and the crashing final sequence which spotlights the Batman-Robin relationship against the other Titans and their mentors. Wolfram and Keshl have created an instant classic here, making this classic line-up into an utterly contemporary and relatable team. With any luck DC will realize what they have on their hands and give this pair their own ongoing project.


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