Sunday, April 27, 2008

DC Capsule Reviews Week 14 2008

Got a tad carried away this week, so two of the capsule reviews will actually be appearing as full reviews here and on the Nexus. Links within!

Still catching up, two weeks to go, and these are DC Comics for the first week of March 2008


(Paul Dini & Sean McKeever / Jamal Igle)

I was so happy to finally see some progress in the character arcs during the past month, after spending a whole month stuck in the same lame status quo. Boy, did I rush my turn to speak.

This issue, everyone gets back to Earth-1, Jason Todd ditches the Red Robin identity (after what, an issue and a half? What's the point of teasing about it in posters since before the story started?), Mary Marvel becomes evil again (after a whole big fuss of the Gods re-granting her powers. Again, that lasted an issue and a half), Harley and Holly return to normal lives (after 5 panels of having powers). I could stomach most of that, but Mary Marvel's turning into an amoral power-bitch without an external evil spirit manipulating just spits in the face of the character and her history, especially since there's hardly any actual character growth to support the new switch. Jamal Igle does a remarkable job on the pencils, but I just feel sad that Sean McKeever's name is attached to this drivel.



(Geoff Johns / Gary Frank / Jon Sibal)

Superman & The Legion of Super-heroes Finale. Aw, look at those Legion kids, all grown up! Geoff Johns checks back on the original Legion of Super-Heroes, years after the first reboot of the series. Johns has crafted an impressive tale, taking into account every facet of the original Legion: the heroes, the villains, the rejects and the substitutes. I'm not familiar with any of the characters showing up here, but it didn't encumber my enjoyment of the story, as I could feel -even without knowing- the rich history that he was drawing from. Johns is riding an amazing creative high, giving the most classic Action Comics run of recent decades; each storyline is carefully chosen to explore a different facet of Super-man, take him to a whole different world, and always be something that feels... important.

The story of course flows into Final Crisis in the form of an upcoming 'Legion of Three Worlds' promoted as a crossover between the three different Legions (after the franchise's two complete reboots), but described by the writer as simply 'Superman & the (original) Legion of Super-Heroes vs Superboy Prime (w00t) & the Legion of Super-Villains', with probably a few other Legion variations thrown in for marketing. I'm still confused why DC would keep the ongoing Legion title (which was rebooted on the strength of Waid's vision for the title) alive after Waid left, with Jim Shooter on board as the writer (Shooter being the writer who popularised the original Legion), while at the same time only featuring the original Legion in the company's major titles (JLA, Action Comics, Countdown and soon Final Crisis). Why keep the new Legion title around, if you're only going to be acknowledging the original everywhere else. -sigh-



(Paul Dini / Dustin Nguyen)

Batman and fresh love interest Zatanna (really?) face off against Scarface (the gun-totting gangster dummy) and the new and improved (well improved curves) Ventriloquist. Bruce Wayne & Zatanna=euch, not buying it, as the two have nothing connecting them other than being Dini's faves. Bring Selina in, man! Dini's puppy love for Zatanna poses other problems in his storytelling as well; Zatanna is not meant to be a permanent fixture of Gotham City, as she's a gazillion power levels above Batman's Rogues gallery (consisting mainly of psychotic humans with fancy get-ups and guns); her showdown with the Ventriloquist just looks pathetic and insulting to the reader's intelligence. Why not spin her off into her own ongoing? The only thing making this a worthwhile story is the new Ventriloquist, a blonde bombshell from Bruce's past who could prove a more memorable figure to fill the V role.



(Pete Milligan / Pete Woods)

The Bogeyman part 1. DC is making amends for condemning the launch of Infinity Inc with the choice of untested rookie Max Fiumara on art, paired with an even more incompatible colorist. DCU readers might be open to a Vertigo-esque (ugh, I already hate that term as I type it) take on their superheroes, but it needs to come in an attractive package for it to work. Think X-Force/X-Statix. Think All-Star Superman.




(Peter J. Tomasi / Rags Morales)

'Freefall' part 4. An uneven finale to what started as a promising storyline. Nightwing and Robin have been investigating a string of zombie super-villains running amok, the trail leading them to Talia and the League of Assassins. This issue is a basic James Bond routine: planes turning into subs, scuba-diving to the island, surveillance, infiltration through secret lake entrances, big angel cloning labs, maniacal doctors, death traps (with Robin tied up on an honest-to-God conveyor belt of broken Angels being dropped off into Hell) and rocket escapes. It has an element of insane fun to it, but it's anti-climactic (if this is indeed the last part of the storyline) as the generic old doctor villain is still unnamed and the trail leading to Talia left dangling. Nightwing and Robin work great as a tag team, I hope the kid sticks around.



(Allen Warner / JJ Kirby & Oliver Nome)

I honestly tried to care about this title, but I can't find any solid footing, despite some interesting characters. The plot follows Love Rocket (superhero / radio DJ) urging blaxploitation superman Black Halo out of retirement to investigate the disappearance of the world's superheroes, their first stop being the dubious/murderous/vacuous corporate super-hero The Invincible Sword. As much as the Sword makes fun reading in a Guy Gardner sort of way, the first two issues haven't done enough to keep me interest; I doubt I'll be reading the next issue.



(Marv Wolfman / Damion Scott)

If I can manage to overlook the ill-suited graffiti art, Wolfman actually has a decent story to tell here; Raven is taking advantage of her rebirth to try living as a normal teenager for the first time, go to high school and make friends. Her social awkwardness and complete disconnection from any form of pop culture make for some amusing gags, although the fun gets too cheesy when it's time for her cheerleader try-outs and her first game of bowling. Leave the poor 'emo' (as per the first issue's cover blurb, not my fault) girl alone! What keeps me coming back is the inclusion of the Psycho Pirate mask in the equation, now linked to a mass broadcasting device and used by a team of scientists not shy on experimenting on a school of teenagers.



(Kelley Puckett / Drew Johnson)

'Way of the World' part 1. Finally a Supergirl story I can cheer for! Puckett wisely ditches the conventional super-fight routines and goes for a story that touches at the very heart of Supergirl: a 16-year old idealistic teenage superhero. Supergirl has just promised a dying 5-year old kid that she will cure cancer for him, and no matter what Superman or Wonder Woman or any grown up have to say about the matter she won't keep trying.




(Rick Remender / Pat Olliffe)

'Inside Out' part 2. Last issue, the Atom went exploring inside his own blood sample, recovering a monster which he then enlarged to study. Dumb! Now the giant monster is running rampant in the city, killing his best friend, his potential hot girlfriend of a new neighbour and more! Dumb! Still, he makes a conscious decision to NOT call in the cavalry/JLA but try to tackle this problem alone. DUMB! As for the issue itself, it offers nothing more than mindless shoot-outs against a giant man-eating germ; it's quirky but not quirky enough to drag out through an entire issue. Better to skip straight to the next chapter.



(Chuck Dixon / Julian Lopez)

This has fast grown into one of my fave super-team books. Batman's hand-picked team of covert operatives, sort of his take on Oracle's Birds of Prey. Dixon surprises pleasantly with a comeback noone saw coming, and surprisingly noone at DC thought to promote:

the Dibnys have joined the Outsiders! Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny and his wife Sue have been long-time fan-favourites, from the stint in Giffen's Justice League, and turned into martyrs when Sue was unceremoniously raped and murdered in Identity Crisis and Ralph died trying to resurrect her and save the world from the devil in 52. The end of 52 teased their reunion as a pair of Ghost Detectives, and this looks like the title where we'll be seeing the next chapter of their story.


No comments: