I think that, when it comes to Read/RANT, I’m the resident James Robinson fan. It isn’t easy these days. Go back a few years, and there were few who would dispute Robinson as a top-notch creator. Admittedly, many hadn’t heard of him, nor had they read the title that earned him such accolades… but that just meant they couldn’t really dispute the claim. Now, however, Robinson has failed to produce a truly successful follow up to Starman, instead giving readers a string of mediocre-to-bad comics, from his uneven Superman to his downright laughable Justice League: Cry for Justice. And yet, with many of Starman‘s fans, good will remains. His newest, and arguably his highest profile book to date, hit yesterday as he takes over writing duties on Justice League of America with issue #38.
Unfortunately, there’s little of value in Justice League of America #38. Robinson opens the issue with the death of Blue Jay, insults Young Justice on the following page, and then introduces Gypsy by having her brought in unconscious and thrown around by Despero. It’s hard to describe that sequence of events without at least imagining that Robinson is slyly satirizing the recent trend to piss off fans of the critically-praised, beloved JLI and Young Justice, but he plays it so straight and with so little heart that it almost seems incidental to everything else.
Led by Vixen, a group of heroes battered by Prometheus in Justice League: Cry for Justice has gathered in the headquarters of the original Justice League to discuss the future of the group. Vixen, Dr. Light, Plastic Man and Red Tornado can think of few reasons why the team should exist, let alone any world in which they could be the glue that holds it together, but a surprise attack by Despero unites the four injured heroes with Gypsy and Zatanna. Together, they manage to fend off the attacker, and that’s when we get the real news: this is a “Blackest Night” tie-in. Taking place at the exact same time as the events of Blackest Night #3, the newly-formed Justice League decides to crash the Hall of Justice and confront the now-undead villains, seemingly led by the malevolent Dr. Light.
Mark Bagley, recent superstar of DC’s Trinity, does a fine job on the art. His style is extremely traditional – impossibly thin, curvy women and enormous, muscle-bound men – but that hardly hurts the issue. The action segments flow smoothly and he keeps the dialogue-driven scenes running well, too, most notably because of Plastic Man, who looks increasingly as though he’s about to fall apart as the issue progresses.
This is a book that I very much wanted to like. A Justice League comprised of Vixen, Zatanna, Plastic Man, Red Tornado, Gypsy and Kimiyo Hoshi is… well, that’s a pretty damn interesting team, and there are a lot of stories to be told. Unfortunately, Robinson takes the easy way out – a whole lot of exposition broken up by a brief brawl with a bland baddie. The issue does not suggest that we will see the clever, character-driven action and well-constructed drama for which Robinson justly became a star. Justice League of America looks to remain, at least for now, a book desperately struggling to find a voice, tone or interesting creative direction.
- Cal Cleary
I’ve been doing these for a little while now and they always seem to be popular. So until people stop reading them, I’ll probably keep doing them. For those who are new, here’s what you can expect. I go through the latest DC solicits and add my (sometimes snarky) commentary.
I actually skipped the November solicits because Blackest Night took over the majority of the DC books. One of my problems with Blackest Night (and I have many) is that the story is already getting repetitive. We’ve seen the same couple of scenes repeated ad infinitum. When you go through the solicits and every book has the same basic premise (Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B!) it gets boring. I couldn’t stand the thought of writing up all of those Blackest Night tie-ins, so I took a month off.
December is really no different. So I’m going to be more selective about which books I include in this write-up. And some books will no boubt be lumped together. That way, I don’t bore you with the same entry 15 times. (I’ll only bore you with it once – ba dum dum.)
Now that I’ve set the comedic bar at a level I can reach, let’s look at what DC will be offering in December:
Blackest Night Books
BLACKEST NIGHT #6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
The secrets of Nekron are revealed as darkness consumes the DC Universe.
Everything else: TOP SECRET.
BLACKEST NIGHT continues! John Stewart comes face to face with his greatest failures, the planet Xanshi and his wife and fellow Green Lantern, Katma Tui. Plus, what does Fatality truly want with John?
These solicits are a little light on details. But that’s a good thing in my book. My concern is that from the details that are included in the solicits, it sure doesn’t sound like a whole lot has happened from Blackest Night 0 up to Blackest Night 6. Doesn’t it sound like we’re in pretty much the same place we’ve been in from the start of this thing?
Also, did you see that Ed Benes is drawing GL 49. You know what that means? Fatality butt floss on every page! Plus, zombie cleavage I would think.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #43
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Pat Gleason & Rebecca Buchman
Red rain falls! As the Black Lanterns continue their reign of terror and chaos on Oa, things go from bad to worse when a horrible loss for the Green Lantern Corps results in Guy Gardner becoming so enraged that he becomes a Red Lantern! And hell breaks loose as the Central Power Battery faces an attack from the newly arrived Black Lantern Corphans!
I split this one out from the other BN books for a couple of reasons:
- Something happens!
- An angry Guy Gardner is a good thing.
Yes, it kinda sucks that they went and spoiled this development a full 3 months before it happens. But at this point I’m pretty glad to see any sign of forward plot movement from Blackest Night. So I’ll take what I can get.
Also, I’ve seen a lot of Guy fans complaining about this already. Come on, guys! You know this isn’t going to last any longer than when Kyle got possessed by Parallax. And that was the single coolest thing to happen in the Sinestro Crops War storyline. So you should just be grateful that Guy is getting a spotlight.
Turing into a Red Lantern sure beats the one-panel “death” Jeph Loeb gave Guy in “Our Wolrds at War”. It pretty much guarantees Guy’s going to be around at the end of Blackest Night. But those close to Guy (whose deaths might push Guy into a rage) better watch their backs.
Blackest Night Mini-Series
BLACKEST NIGHT: THE FLASH #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Scott Kolins
The Flashes of Two Cities – Barry Allen and Wally West – battle the undead Rogues. Will the legendary speedsters be able to handle the Black Lantern Rogues’ revenge? Plus, witness the resurrection of Barry’s greatest enemy, the Reverse Flash in this hyper-speed miniseries event reuniting the fan-favorite FLASH creative team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins!
BLACKEST NIGHT: JSA #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Eddy Barrows & Ruy José
The mystery men of yesterday are back and they seek the hearts of their new counterparts! It’s Mr. Terrific vs. Mr. Terrific, Dr. Midnite vs. Dr. Midnite, Sand vs Wesley Dodds! Can the new generation of heroes survive the rise of the Black Lantern JSA? Find out in this all-new miniseries from original JSA co-writer James Robinson and rising star artist Eddy Barrows (BLACKEST NIGHT: SUPERMAN)!
Fan-favorite writer Greg Rucka returns to chronicle the adventures of the Amazing Amazon in the DC Universe’s darkest hour! Black Lantern Maxwell Lord has risen and he seeks revenge and retribution for his murder at the hands of Diana. Look for unexpected changes to await Wonder Woman in the course of this series as she plays a major role in the War of Light against the Blackest Night.
I had pretty low expectations of the first batch of BN tie-in mini-series. And so far, they have met or exceeded by expectations. BN: Superman actually had a pretty strong first issue. But it seems like you can skip all three and not miss anything. And Tales of the Corps was an embarrassing money grab. DC should be ashamed of that one.
This crop of tie-ins seems a little more promising to me. I was a fan of the Johns/Kollins run on Flash and I liked the first 2/3 of their “Rogues Revenge” mini-series. So while “Rebirth” isn’t to my liking, I expect I’ll like BN: Flash okay as long as Johns can keep the retcons to a minimum.
The stand-out to me promises to be BN: Wonder Woman. I know Rucka was upset he never got to deal with the fallout from the death of Max Lord. Now, it looks like he’ll get that chance even if it years a few years late. Plus, you’ve got Nicola Scott. Nicola Scott + Wonder Woman is worth my $3 every time.
ADVENTURE COMICS #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jerry Ordway; co-feature art by Francis Manapul
Concluding the 2-part BLACKEST NIGHT tale of Superboy-Prime! The Black Lanterns have forced Prime to face his deepest and darkest fears, but what – and who – are they? And how will Superboy-Prime strike back after this devastating attack?
Plus, Conner Kent faces off with Superman’s greatest enemy in an exciting co-feature by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul. That’s right: Superboy confronts Lex Luthor!
I’m truly torn on this one. On the one hand, I’ve been enjoying Adventure Comics so far. On the other, I’m really sick of Johns’ take on Superboy-Prime. The end of Legion of Three Worlds totally crossed a line for me and I was hoping not to see the character again for a while. But Johns just can’t seem to stay away from him. On the upside, I’m looking forward to the Conner/Lex confrontation.
BOOSTER GOLD #27
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art and cover by Dan Jurgens& Norm Rapmund
Black Lantern Ted Kord is out for blood in this BLACKEST NIGHT tie-in issue! Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes joins forces with Booster Gold in an attempt to take down Black Lantern Ted Kord once and for all. But the battle will have consequences for the Blue and the Gold, and Booster and Beetle’s lives will be forever changed!
This is another tough one. This issue definitely fits into the “Hero A comes into contact with Dead Person B” formula I talked about earlier. And there’s no way I won’t be sick of that by the end of the year. And DC has already gone to the Ted Kord well at least one time too many since killing him off in Countdown. But still, I really like Booster Gold. I feel like Jurgens does a great job with the book and I’d like to see it get some attention. Hopefully Jurgens can rise above the formula and deliver one of the better tie-ins to this event.
TEEN TITANS #78
Written by J.T. Krul
Art and cover by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
An unexpected BLACKEST NIGHT team-up! Ravager has sworn to kill her father Deathstroke. But what happens when they’re forced to fight side-by-side against their dead friends and relatives? Will they kill each other before the Black Lanterns do?
Remember when Titans was the goose that laid the golden eggs? Well, DC totally killed that goose. (I think that goose may even be a Black Lantern!) This franchise is in a tail spin and DC doesn’t seem to know what to do to pull out of it. I’ll give you a hint, DC, a Deathstroke/Ravager issue is NOT the answer.
On the upside, I don’t see Sean McKeever’s name anywhere on this comic book. Therefore, I will buy it on principle.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #40
Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mark Bagley & Rob Hunter
The JLA can’t escape the BLACKEST NIGHT! Faced with the continuing threat of the Black Lanterns, Zatanna, Vixen and the rest of the team confront their pasts when fallen friends and foes return for blood!
I can’t be the only one who finds Bagley’s cover to be hideous, right?
I recently posted an article about the new JLA line-up. Interesting to see Vixen and Zatanna featured so prominently after not being included in the official line-up. I guess the rumors that Robinson’s team will be super-sized are true.
As I said in my article, I really can’t muster up any excitement for Robinson’s JLA after 3 issues of Cry for Justice.
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
While Black Mask and his Ministry of Death struggle to maintain control of Gotham City, The Dark Knight sets his sights on Kittyhawk – a young thief pivotal to the outcome of Black Mask’s gang war. But will a powerful adversary thought long dead spoil all of Batman’s plans? Guest-starring Oracle and the Penguin!
Not too much to say here. I’m having some trouble keeping up my enthusiasm for Batman with the back-and-forth writing from Winick and Daniel. I mean, these are two of my least favorite writers in comics these days. Black Mask and Penquin both feel over-used these days. And I’m enjoying them more in Dini’s Streets of Gotham.
DETECTIVE COMICS #860
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III; co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Batwoman’s origin story concludes here! In “Go!” part 3, Kate Kane becomes Batwoman and goes after a terrorist cell in Gotham, but all does not go according to plan. Plus, in the present, Kate confronts her father about her supposedly dead sister!
In the co-feature, the Huntress joins The Question in her quest to track down the leaders of the human trafficking ring. But finding them – and bring them to justice – will be harder and more dangerous than either hero thought!
Confession time: I’m a behind on this title. But I love the art on the book. Rucka’s writing hasn’t completely won me over to Batwoman yet. But maybe I’ll feel differently once I catch up. I am looking forward to seeing the Huntress and the Question though!
BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #7
Written by Paul Dini; co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs; co-feature art by Jeremy Haun
Paul Dini returns to STREETS OF GOTHAM as Batman and Robin uncover a sinister plot involving dozens of Gotham City’s young runaways. Is Arkham Asylum escapee Humpty Dumpty at the center of the scheme – or is he just the tip of an even more dangerous iceberg? Guest-starring Abuse and Zsasz!
And in the Manhunter co-feature, now that Kate has finally tracked down Two-Face, she’s ready to confront him for the hit he ordered on Gotham’s former D.A. But their confrontation is not going to go the way she planned!
I haven’t gotten around to writing up a review for Streets of Gotham, but I have been keeping up with the book and mostly enjoying it. I wasn’t thrilled with the 60′s-TV show-worthy bad guy, The Broker. But if you’re going to do the character, last issue was about as good of a story as you could possibly tell. I am enjoying watching Dini re-invent Mr. Zsasz. And I am enjoying the build-up in the Manhunter back-up to the inevitable showdown beteen the former DA of Gotham and the new sheriff in town.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Phil Noto
It’s Bat vs. Bat in “Core Requirements” part 1! As Gotham City burns, the new Batgirl comes face-to-face with Batman and Robin, who are anything but happy about her running around with a bat-symbol on her costume. Batman confronts Oracle as Damian confronts Stephanie in the ultimate Bat-family feud.
My favorite thing about this series so far is the Phil Noto covers. And I think this is Noto’s best cover yet. But the first two issues were pretty mediocre. And it’s not promising that the solicit for this issue reads an awful lot like the one for the first issue.
In all honesty, if the next issue is a marked improvement over the first two I am unlikely to be here for issue 5.
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #7
Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March
Catwoman takes charge as the other Sirens fall victim to their most dangerous challenge yet!
Does the text for this solicit even matter?
Hey, I like Catwoman’s boobs as much as the next guy. Depending on who the next guy is, I may like them more. I’ve got a healthy collection of Jim Balent’s boobtastic run on Catwoman to prove it. But even I got sick of this bad girl retread after the first couple of issues.
Can this book really be written by the same guy who is writing Streets of Gotham? Maybe there are two Paul Dini’s. One of them worked in animation and wrote Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham. The other guy wrote Countdown and this.
It’s the best explanation I can come up with.
SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
While everyone wants something from Metropolis’ first Super Hero, Superman must fight his first Super-Villain – someone who wants everything – the Parasite! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor turns his attention toward The Man of Steel…
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank continue their bold reinterpretation of the origin of The Man of Steel for the 21st Century!
Geoff Johns can hand in a blank script for all I care. I’m on board this mini-series for Gary Frank’s art. As I said in my review of the first issue, the art pushes all my Superman fanboy buttons.
ACTION COMICS #884
Written by Greg Rucka; co-feature written by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pere Pérez; co-feature art by CAFU
When Lois tries to run the story that will clear Flamebird and Nightwing once and for all, she finds herself blocked at every turn. With the world’s anti-Kryptonian sentiment escalating to a near-frenzy, not even being General Lane’s daughter will keep her safe!
Plus, to the shock and horror of Flamebird, the problems with Nightwing’s uncontrolled aging reach a critical juncture! and in part 6 of the new co-feature, Captain Atom squares off against his old adversary Major Force just as some troubling memories start to resurface – one word: Monarch!
I’m not loving the Anti-Krypton story that seems to be taking hold of the Superman books post Codename: Patriot. It just feels like watered-down X-Men. Are you really going to cover any new territory here? I don’t think so.
As I mentioned in my review of the latest issue, the Captain Atom back-up is just getting tiresome. The word “Monarch” does nothing to improve my outlook on that subject.
Written by James Robinson
Art by Fernando Dagnino & Raúl Fernandez
Part 2 of Man of Valor! Metropolis gets a chance to see the new Mon-El in action. But now the stakes are raised even higher and the action escalates as Mon finally goes mano-a-mano against the Parasite! This is a battle that’s been brewing since Mon’s emergence on Earth and now it explodes into the streets and skies of the city.
Plus, with Mon-El’s secret identity publicly known, how will the Science Police react to him now that they know he’s been living among them all this time? All this plus the return of Natasha Irons and the fate of Steel!
I’ve actually enjoyed most of Robinson’s run on Superman. But even I have to admit that the pace has been somewhat slow. Some issues have felt like padding. But this issue looks like it will finally advance some long-dangling plot threads. And that’s good – as long as they aren’t tied up as sloppily as the Codename: Patriot finale. That was a stinker.
SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #10
Written by Greg Rucka & James Robinson
Art by Pete Woods
New Krypton is a planet so fresh, it’s experiencing countless things for the first time. Its first spring. Its first blooms. Its first birth of a child. And now its first homicide. When an important figure in Kandor is murdered, the suspect seems obvious to everyone but Superman. But can he make Zod or the Council believe this is more than an open-and-shut case? And can he uncover the real killer in time to save the life of the accused? It’s a dark mystery, but R.E.B.E.L.S. star Adam Strange arrives in time to help find answers…even though the truth may blow apart the civilized trappings of Kandorian society in the process.
This action-packed arc leads all the way to the series’ final issue, which itself sets the stage for huge happenings in the DC Universe next summer!
The other Superman books have their charms. But I can certainly understand why fans would be disappointed in them some times. World of New Krypton, on the other hand, always delivers. Next to Secret Six, it is the book I look forward to the most from month to month. I’ll be sad when it’s over!
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Matt Camp
Uh-oh! The Silver Banshee is back in Metropolis! This time she’s after an artifact that could finally break her family’s eternal curse. When Inspector Mike Henderson gets involved, Supergirl is pulled into the conflict! Meanwhile, Lana Lang’s mysterious condition takes a turn for the worse. Will the Girl of Steel be able to save her only two human friends? Join fan-favorite writer Sterling Gates and guest artist Matt Camp (SUPERMAN: SECRET FILES 2009, Zero Killer) to find out!
I hate to say it, but the usually reliable Gates/Igle team has hit a bit of a speed bump with the last couple of issues. Crossovers into Codename: Patriot and Hunt for Reactron have pushed the book slightly off track. Hopefully, now that those crossovers are in the past, the team can get back to delivering very good (maybe even great) Supergirl stories.
Hey! Where’s Igle?
WORLD’S FINEST #3
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle
The Toyman has crafted the ultimate killing machine to protect himself from the Kryptonian menace, and Oracle has sent Supergirl and Batgirl to stop it. But when Supergirl faces off against the Kryptonite Man while the new Batgirl takes on Catwoman, they both find themselves in over their heads.This looks like a job for…
Oh, here he is.
This solicit sounds good enough to me. So, I’ll use this space to address something that has been bugging me. With no Birds of Prey book, I’m not sure what Oracle’s role is in the DCU. She just seems to be all over the place. Is she running The Network, mentoring Batgirl, or just setting up random operations like this one? I don’t know. But I’d really like to see her concentrate on setting up a regular group of operatives like what she had in Birds of Prey.
I really miss that book!
GREEN ARROW & BLACK CANARY #27
Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Renato Guedes & Jose Wilson Magalhaes and Mike Norton & Bill Sienkiewicz
First up: “Five Stages” part 3! Cupid and Green Arrow team up against Black Canary and Green Arrow (?!) just as the mysterious soldiers of Cobalt make Star City their own battlefield!
And then in the co-feature: Just where did this mysterious second Green Arrow come from? And how is Cobalt connected to his recent past?
Every month, when the solicits come out, Green Arrow/Black Canary is one of the first things I look at. It’s not because I am anxiously awaiting hints of what is to come on the book. It’s because I desperately hope that DC will replace Andrew Kreisberg.
Every month, I am disappointed.
And then I see Cupid on the cover and I can barely contain my fanboy rage. Please, DC, do something about this book!
The Justice Society struggles to pick up the pieces after the team’s devastating break up! Regrouping at a new, temporary home base, the smaller team reflects on the recent infiltration of their ranks and how they can protect themselves from another such attack in the future! And why is the new Dr. Fate acting so weird?
An all-new ongoing series! The Justice Society spin off group struggles to pull itself toward some semblance of order after the JSA’s devastating split! New home base, new training methods, new villains – all bringing the JSA All-Stars face-to-“face” with one of their greatest villains again – for the first time! Join writer Matthew Sturges (JUSTICE SOCIETY, JACK OF FABLES) and artist Freddie Williams II (ROBIN) for a new chapter in the JSA legacy.
Well, the cast is definitely big enough to support two books. So, this seems like a no-brainer to split the team. I don’t know if I’ll follow both books or not.
POWER GIRL #7
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
A blast from the past! The alien Vartox has come to Earth to claim a wife—and her name is Power Girl! PG may have wanted a boyfriend, but not quite like this! The fan-favorite team of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner craft another winner!
I’m a big fan of Amanda Conner’s art. And I feel she is the perfect artist for Power Girl. But the writing team of Palmiotti and Gray always leaves me feeling underwhelmed. This book is a great book to thumb through at the comic shop for the art. But reading it sometimes feels like a chore.
I appreciate the light tone and the art. I just wish the writing were a little more interesting.
SECRET SIX #16
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Peter Nguyen & Doug Hazlewood
The supremely powerful and infinitely dangerous Black Alice returns and she’s decided she wants to be a member of the Six – even if someone has to die to make room!
Of all the books coming out in December, this is the one I’l looking forward to the most!
And yay Black Alice!
Boo no Nicola Scott!
WONDER WOMAN #39
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
This is it! The secret behind Wonder Woman’s new power and the true meaning of the Olympian are revealed right here!
It’s an all-out action issue as Diana faces an old foe with a hideous new face!
I’m still hoping Gail Simone can make me love her Wonder Woman as much as I love Secret Six. This issue sure sounds like a winner. You know I’ll be there.
(But odds are Seventh Soldier will beat me to the punch when it comes time to write a review.)
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by Angel Unzueta & Wayne Faucher
Spotlight on Donna Troy! What happens when a young twenty-something woman feels like she grew up too fast and deprived herself of a twenty-something kind of life? As Donna ponders this, the Fearsome Five continue their Titans revenge streak. They picked the wrong time to do it…
Seriously, if you’re not going to do anything with this book, just cancel it and spare us all the trouble.
So, this is the new Justice League, huh?
First reaction: I don’t love the art. Mark Bagley’s DC work has been solid. And I applaud any artist who can meet deadlines these days. But I haven’t loved his work at DC and this image is no exception. The characters always seem a little “off” to me. And what’s up with the weird size discrepancies?
Honestly, I don’t much care who is on the JLA. It’s all about execution to me. I’d rather have a good book filled with 3rd stringers than a crap book starring the Big 7. But, the line-up is more important to the JLA than it is to almost any other team in comics. People have certain expectations of the JLA that they don’t have for the Titans for example.
With that in mind, I thought I’d run through the new line-up and share my thoughts. In alphabetical order we have:
The Atom:Ray Palmer is the first of Robinson’s “pet characters” to make the list. Ray’s been on the League plenty of times before. Even when he wasn’t a member, he was one of the first reserves to get the call to action. No doubt that he has a place on the team. Unfortunately, Robinson has written him really poorly in “Cry for Justice”. I really don’t want to see more of the same here. Also, a part of me really wishes DC would have given Ryan Choi more of a chance.
Batman:Sure, Batman belongs on the League. Okay, so this is not Bruce Wayne. Doesn’t really matter. Dick’s lead the JLA before (in the Obsidian Age storyline). Being Batman means being in the JLA. This one is a no-brainer.
Congorilla:If any new member is going to raise eyebrows, it’s Congo Bill. When people heard he was going to be featured in “Cry for Justice”, they scratched their heads. Most people took a wait-and-see attitude. Robinson swears he’s going to make all of us love Congorilla. I’m still waiting for that to happen. Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s no way I think he belongs on the Justice League. But as Robinson’s pet character, he makes the cut.
Cyborg: Really? Cyborg? Okay. I mean, if Steel isn’t available, sure. I guess. I’m not sure why Cyborg needs to make the step up from Titans to the League. But I have no problem with it… except… well, more on that later.
Donna Troy: Hey, what do you know? Another Titan. I really don’t have a problem with Donna on the League. I’m not sure why Wonder Woman is unavailable. But I guess we’ll find out in due time. The problem is that this line-up has 4 Titans on it (5 if you count Ray Palmer who was a Teen Titan in the 90s). It just seems like over-kill. It’s okay to have a Titan or two on the roster, but they shouldn’t be the dominant force.
Dr. Light:First of all, the name is most commonly associated with a villain. One of the most hated villains in the DCU to be specific. On the other hand, she’s got the power level to be on the League. And as an Asian woman, she adds some diversity to a mostly white team. I’ve never been a fan of the character, but I’ve got nothing against her.
Green Arrow: Much was made of Roy Harper taking on the name Red Arrow and taking Ollie’s place on the League. So in a way it feels like a step backward to bring Ollie back this soon. Then again, with so many Titans on the roster, something had to give. There’s no doubt that Ollie belongs on the League. But there may be a few reasons why he doesn’t belong on this League.
- He’s married to Black Canary. Black Canary led the last incarnation of the League and was fairly humiliated when Hal told the League why they sucked and stormed off. Ollie should be standing by her side, not Hal’s.
- When you have Ollie on the League, there are certain characters you want to see him interact with. And almost none of them are here. No Black Canary. No Hawkman. Just Hal Jordan. And…
- Robinson’s take on Hal and Ollie’s banter has been one of the most painful things about “Cry For Justice”. I doubt he’s learned how to write either character any better.
Green Lantern:See point 3 under Green Arrow. Also, Hal Jordan is dangerously close to being over-exposed in the DCU these days. It would have been nice to see another GL featured here. With Hal getting the main book, Kyle and Guy in GL Corps, I would really like to see John Stewart on the League.
The Guardian:Like Congorilla, the Guardian is anything but a household name. In and of itself, that’s not a problem. But this team is sorely lacking heavy hitters. The only reason the Guardian is getting the nod is that Robinson likes him. And I’ve enjoyed Robinson’s take on the character in Superman. But Superman already stars Mon-el and the Guardian. Did we really need to have both characters here too?
Mon-el:The Superman family’s pretty darn big. I’d rather have Supergirl or Steel fill in for Superman while he’s off planet. For story reasons, I understand why Supergirl wouldn’t make a good fit. Kryptonians aren’t real popular these days. And Steel may not be in fighting shape after the ass-whooping he got from Atlas a couple months ago. So, I guess Mon-el makes the most sense. But I really don’t care for that “S” they added to his costume.
Starfire:Another Titan. I’m not sure I understand what Starfire is brining to the table. Sure, she’s powerful. But so are a lot of other characters who could have brought a little more of a “JLA” feel to the book. On her own, I can see it. But with all the other Titans floating around, will this book still feel like the JLA?
Which brings me to my next point. What’s going to happen to Titans? Surely these four characters’ aren’t all going to be pulling double duty on both teams. Rumor has it Beast Boy is also leaving the Titans for Teen Titans. So, it seems likely that book may be headed for cancellation.
If Titans does get cancelled, it’s no big loss. The book has stunk from day one. (Honestly, Billy’s blasting of Titans 1 is the most read article on this blog of all times. And not just because he included screenshots of all the naked pictures of Starfire!) But I thought Wally West fans were being told they could read about their favorite character in Titans. Now I have to wonder if Wally still has a home.
Which brings up another point: the team is lacking a Speedster. With both Wally and Barry running around, it seems like at least one of them should be on the League. With Barry getting the main book, it would have been nice to see Wally here – as long as he wasn’t one more Titan.
There’s a few other surprising omissions. Vixen was confirmed as being on the team at one point. Maybe she’ll show up later on. Who knows? also, after all the hub-bub around McDuffie not getting to pick his League, you have to wonder why DC was so quick to throw aside the members of that version of the team. Zatanna, Firestorm, the recently returned Plastic Man… what happened to those guys?
There’s still some story left to tell. And maybe it will all make more sense when we see how Cry for Justice leads into the main title. I’ll be interested to see why Starman, Supergirl, Captain Marvel, etc didn’t make the cut.
I’m a huge fan of the Justice League. It’s my favorite team in comics. And I really want the book to be good. This line-up could work, but it doesn’t really excite me. My main reservation about the book is the creative team.
I like Robinson’s work on Superman. But man-oh-man do I hate Cry for Justice. There’s no reason to think his take on the main JLA book will be any better than his mini-series. So, my expectations have been lowered to zero for that reason alone.
Couple Robinson with the capable but “off” artwork of Mark Bagley in the DCU and a line-up I just don’t care about and you’ve got a recipe for another lack luster Justice League.
This is one case where I would definitely like to be proven wrong.
This book is bad. Seriously, you should all thank me for reading it so you don’t have to.
How bad is it?
Well, this issue steals its premise from one of the most celebrated Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes of all time, Hush. Hush was amazing because of the way the characters were able to communicate silently. In television, a medium that typically includes sound, the effect was sometimes creepy, sometimes touching and often hysterical. In a comic book, it just means the horrible dialogue appears in thought captions instead.
How bad is the internal monologue? Check out the opening spread from Black Canary:
On the next page is the single word “Silence” Ooooo. So, the leader of the JLA is afraid of the sounds of silence. Don’t take her to a Simon and Garfunkle concert!
In the Buffy episode, people were weirded out by the fact no one could make any noise vocally. People started buying dry erase boards so they could communicate. They were freaked out, but they went about their daily lives. In this book, people start acting like it’s the end of the world. Riots break out immediately. And when Black Canary saves a girl from a street gang (she stops the last one by throwing a knife in his leg, btw) the girl asks why she let them live.
Because if someone turns off the sound for five minutes, everyone’s going to go all Lord of the Flies all the sudden.
By page 6, we are treated to the team of Green Arrow and Cupid. (Seriously, why don’t they just rename the book? Get Dinah the hell out of this book, please!)
Cupid’s idea of heroics is to put a family out of their misery rather than letting them burn to death. Ollie stops her and rescues the family rather easily. Which leads to this marvelous exchange:
I don’t know, Ollie. Maybe you could lock the psycho up before she actually executes someone! Just a thought!
Dinah visits some scientists who give her a way to track the source of the problem through, you know, science. Or comic book science at least. Of course, Black Canary doesn’t knock on the office door. No, she breaks in their window and shrugs for no apparent reason.
Because the window was dirty and you didn’t want to clean it?
Through a flash-back, we learn that Dinah was not good in science (presumably because she’s a girl, right?) And that this whole thing is her fault. But we already more or less knew that from the first issue of Kreisberg’s run. Now we just find out this isn’t the first time she’s blown out someone’s ear drums.
Silly, girl. Always blowing out people’s eardrums, knifing thugs and being saved by Green Arrow.
Oh, and we also find out where BC got her ideas about how to enter a room:
I guess Wildcat didn’t get the memo about the JSA’s mission to make better heroes, huh.
Hopefully by reading this comic, I saved someone else from having to waste $3.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33
It’s a sad time to be a fan of the Justice League. The book just hasn’t been worth reading for a long time. After reading Dwane McDuffie’s on-line comments about some of the bizarre editorial mandates inflicted on the books, I’m kind of amazed that the book has been readable at all.
Having said that, this issue was actually more readable than most. It feels like a lot of the outside pressures and influences eased up a little this issue and the story actually got a little room to breathe. It probably helped that a lot of second and third tier characters took center-stage. (Black Canary and Superman may be on the cover, but don’t expect to find them in the book.)
A lot of the plot threads that McDuffie has been working with come together in this issue. Starbreaker has kidnapped Dr. Light and the Justice League enlists the aid of Hardware to track her down. Meanwhile, Anasi contacts Vixen and charges her with an important mission. To aid her, he provides a partner last scene in a previous JLA arc.
If you haven’t been reading Justice League, this is hardly new-reader friendly. Having been a less-than-devout follower of McDuffie’s run, I know little to nothing about the Shadow Cabinet. And if I hadn’t read the Anasi arc, I think I would have been utterly baffled by the entire issue. But, if you have been keeping up with McDuffie’s run, this issue starts to pay things off.
The art by Rags Morales is good. I would prefer him as a regular artist on this book over Ed Benes. Having said that, the art in this issue kind of lacked some of the “wow” factor I expect from Rags. I don’t know if it was rushed or poorly inked. It just fell a little short of what I have seem from Morales in the past. But it was still better than the usual art on the book.
I also credit McDuffie with doing a couple of things I would not have thought possible. One, he makes Starbreaker feel like a legitimate threat. I can’t remember the last time the JLA faced a worthy adversary. And two, he’s actually making me care about Dr. Light.
I also couldn’t help noticing that this JLA is the most ethnic JLA I’ve ever seen. There was not a white man to be seen aside from the guest star Anasi whipped up. I couldn’t help thinking that was kind of cool. First a black president and now a racially diverse Justice League!
I also liked a lot of the smaller moments in the book. For example, Zatanna is unable to simply teleport the League to Dr. Light. She goes on to explain that she has a set number of spells prepared and this isn’t one of them. I like Zatanna, but I always thought her power-level was poorly defined. Sometimes she seems all-powerful and sometimes she’s useless. I liked this explanation.
I am not recommending Justice League. Not yet. But if you’ve been reading McDuffie’s run, things look to be getting better. Hopefully he will be allowed to continue that momentum and rebuild this once-great book.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #27
Last issue was the end of the Geoff Johns era of Justice Society. And the new writers haven’t gotten here yet. So that obviously means it’s time for a Jerry Ordway fill-in arc. It’s hard to get too excited about a fill-in story like this. You know going in that nothing of any significance is likely to happen. But I decided to give it a shot anyway.
Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised. Ordway does an admirable job with the large cast of the JSA. and his old-school style suits the book. Despite being a fill-in story, the issue actually feels relevant. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ordway is allowed to make some roster changes before the new team arrives.
Although several members of the cast get their moments in the spotlight, the issue focuses on two former members of Infinity Inc. Both Atom Smasher and Obsidian have betrayed the JSA in the past. And neither one of them is fully trusted by the team. So, when they start behaving oddly in the name of protecting the team, not everyone is willing to take them at their word.
Doing a fill-in after Johns’ long run on the book has to be a daunting task. But to his credit, Ordway seems up to it. If you’re not currently reading JSA, this isn’t the issue to start. But if you’re already a JSA reader, this issue is a good enough place holder until the new creative team arrives. And that’s all you can ask of a fill-in.
TEEN TITANS #71
I’ve been a vocal critic of the Titans books. The entire franchise has been a complete disaster for a long time now. And I have hated Sean McKeever’s run on the book. It started off mediocre and then completely crossed the line with this issue.
I could never get invested in the book again after that. It didn’t help matters that this book was tied up in the garbage that was Deathtrap. It made both Titans books more skipable than ever.
This issue marks the end of McKeever’s run on the Teen Titans. But he’ll be sticking around the book writing back-up stories for his Mary Sue, Ravager. With Deathtrap over, I decided to give the book another look. And I shouldn’t be too surprised by what I got.
Ravager was front and center. In fact, this issue was less of a Titans story than it was a set-up for McKeever’s Ravager co-feature. After her escapades with the Terror Titans, Ravager returns to Titans Tower to decide whether or not she should rejoin the team. Meanwhile, Wonder Girl and the rest of the Titans have to decide whether or not they want Ravager back.
It’s all false drama. Bombshell, who was depicted as an out-an-out villain during Johns’ run on the book, has been accepted by the Titans. How could they refuse membership to Ravager? Even Wonder Girl just seems to give up when arguing her point.
Of course, Ravager doesn’t make the decision any easier. In a truly astonishing lapse of judgement, she decides to betray the Titans’ trust in order to force a confrontation with Bombshell. Why? Because she wants to test Bombshell’s loyalties. Huh?!?
I wish McKeever well, but I am glad to see both him and Ravager leave the book. I only wish the back-up feature were going somewhere else. I plan to give the book another chance when Bryan Miller takes over next issue. It’s just a shame I’ll still be getting 10 pages of the same crap from McKeever.
Oh well, 10 issues of crap is better than a full issue.
I’ve been planning a rant about the current state of the Justice League. (It’s coming!) But, in the meanwhile, I saw this article at Newsarama about the Grant Morrison’s run on JLA. This is wasily one of my favorite runs on any book. And since the JLA is my favorite team, it’s my favorite run on any team book. (In spite of the weak Howard Porter art.)
Anyway, here’s a link to the article. Read it and remember when the JLA was great:
This is becoming all too common these days. And unfortunately, it shows no signs of letting up. Been busy. So has everyone else, I know. So, rather than post 1 or 2 full reviews, I’m going to play a little catch-up with some mini-reviews. I’m going to try to focus on books others haven’t covered. Or at least books that haven’t been reviewed three and four times.
Daredevil #112 – Last issue, I gave this book a try after a long absence. I enjoyed the set-up of the Lady Bullseye character. This issue, we get some interesting glimpses into her plan which seems to involve testing possible recruits to her cause. But the overall focus of the story seems to be showing what a monumental jerk Matt Murdock is. I mean, this guy cheated on his wife. Then he got angry with his mistress when she revealed their indiscretion to the police to clear him of murder charges. Is he in some kind of a dick-off with Tony Stark? It was still a good read, but I’m not inclined to keep reading about such an unsypathetic character.
DCU: Decisions #4 – Just the premise of this story should have been enough to tell me it was going to be bad. Then there’s the fact that it’s co-written by Judd Winick. I’ve defended Winick in the past, but I’m done with that now. More and more, he seems determined to live up to his reputation as a hack. This issue is made up of essentially two parts. The first part is a non-ending which leads into the next story arc of the horrible Titans book Winick writes. A four-issue mini should offer some kind of closure, but this one is all set-up for another book. A really bad book. The last several pages is nothing more than a public service announcement about the importance of voting. I had low expectations of this book, but Winick and company managed not to meet them.
Justice League of America #26 – I want to love this book because I love th Justice League. But McDuffie’s cast is too big. And his stories, while they may have seemed fresh in the animated series, rehash the most over-used comic book cliches. Occassionnaly, you’ll get some good character moments. But all too often, everything is on the surface. This issue is particularily bad. After months of build-up, Vixen’s story ends with a return to her status quo. But not before a trip to a parellel universe! The pat ending comes out of nowhere like the story just ran out of gas.
Making matters worse is Ed Benes’ ridiculous amount of T&A. Usually, I don’t mind Benes as a penciller. But when the story is as thin as this, you can’t help noticing that Vixen’s butt takes up half the panel and her porn star chest takes up the other half. This is to be expected from Benes. He has made a name for himself selling cheesecake. But it feels so out of place in DC’s flagship title.
Justice Society of America #20 – Now this is how you handle a big cast and parellel universes! There were so many character running around, it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who. And there were a whole lot of Earth-2 character I just don’t care about very much. But Johns, Ross and Eaglesham do a masterful job of shining a spotlight on the emotional impact of the story. Primarily, we’re dealing with Power Girl here. We finally get some answers as to how there are two Power Girl’s running around and we feel the loss both characters are feeling. In the background, we also get important character moments for Alan Scott and Mr. Terrific. Even with the confusion of having multiple Justice Society’s battling it out, this is just a good, fun comic book. It puts Justice League to shame!
Reign In Hell #4 – There is a big story being told in this mini-series. And there are a lot of players. Most of them don’t even qualify as C-listers. So, it can be a bit hard to keep track of who is doing what. I like the stylized art by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, but sometimes it adds to the confusion. With so much going on, I almost wonder if this mini-series wouldn’t have been better served by a different structure. Maybe one more like the similar Annihilation story also written by Keith Giffen. I think I would enjoy each of these stories more if they had been compartimentalized in overlapping mini-series instead of one big story that can’t focus on any one thing for too long.
Secret Six #3 – This book continues to be the most fun read of the month. It’s twisted, sure. But it’s hysterical. And the artwork is amazing. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s time to start.
Superman #681 – First of all, let me say that I am loving the New Krypton story line so far. The premise is big and ripe with possibilities. And the New Krypton Special was just that, special. The scenes drawn by Gary Frank depicting Superman’s reaction to Pa Kent’s death were brilliant! As the second chapter in the story, this issue does a good job of moving the plot along as well as undercoring what a big deal it is that one hundred thousand Kryptonians have arrived on Earth. My one complaint is that the cliff-hanger ending literally just drops from the sky. (My minor quibble is the entire page that was devoted to Krypto asking to be let into the Kent farm – what is it with Robinson and Krypto?!?)
Teen Titans #64 – I really should drop this book. I’m still reading it out of habit, which is a bad thing. I understand what Sean McKeever’s been trying to do with this book. First, he broke down the cast to the point where the team currently has only four members. Now, he’s slowly rebuilding it by adding members one at a time. The problem is, neither the departures nor the additions feel organic. Most of the characters who left the book did so because the plot demanded it. And in this issue, the team takes in Bombshell for pretty much no reason whatsoever. Even Bombshell seems amazed by their stupidity. I should really drop this book…
Terror Titans #2 – Man, this is just pointless! McKeever introduces characters in a single panel only to kill or maim them in the same panel. Who the hell cares? And the over-the-top gore is not cool. It’s certainly out of place in a mainstream super-hero book. Especially part of the Titans franchise. But that franchise is in sorry shape these days. Sadly, this is just one indicator of how bad things have gotten.
I’ve noticed a pattern in Dwayne McDuffie’s work on Justice League. He does a very good job at the things he does well. But he never seems to be aiming very high. This issue, like most of the issues in McDuffie’s run, is a standard super-hero/super-villain showdown. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen a thousand times before. In fact, we’ve seen this team square off against this same villain recently. However, the execution is good enough that it was still a fun read.
On a certain level, you have to be impressed with the way McDuffie handles the gigantic cast. In addition to the large roster Brad Metzler left him, McDuffie has added guest stars and semi-regulars like Zatanna, Steel and Firestorm. And yet, no one gets lost. All the characterizations feel genuine.
The issue is essentially a smackdown as Amazo rips apart the Justice League. As these things go, the fight is handled well. With the powers of the entire League at his disposal, Amazo should be a massive threat. And that comes across here. Although, as often happens in Amazo stories, he starts shooting arrows just because Roy Harper is there. If you had already copied Superman, Green Lantern and the Flash would you really waste your time shooting red arrows?
There is a larger story going on as well. McDuffie has been slowly building up the mystery of Vixen’s powers that Metzler introduced in his run on Justice League. And while not much is revealed here, the issue definitely sets up revelations to come.
The art is by the series regular, Ed Benes. So, it’s no surprise that it’s just thise side of cheesecake. By this point, you know what to expect from Benes and you either like him or you don’t. Personally, I can overlook the occasional gratuitous butt shot. He’s not my favorite artist, but he’s far from my least favorite.
On the whole, the book is enjoyable for its big cast and strong characterizations. I just keep waiting for stories with a little more complexity than the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.
Instead of doing the usual coverage of my twice-monthly DCBS shipment, I thought I’d split my remaining reviews into separate Roundups divided by overall quality: The Groaners, The Mediocres and The Gooders. This, obviously, is The Groaners. For those that have read the following books, yes, I feel your pain. For those that have not, yes, you dodged a bullet and your wallet thanks you.
• Anna Mercury #2 (**): OH MY GOD. This one is awful. Forget every nice thing I said about the first issue. This series reads likes it’s based on an idea that’s 10 years old. You got me, Ellis. Oh, you bastard.
• Dreamwar #3 (**1/2): Things are not looking up. Finally, we get some kind of explanation… well, no. We get Superman crying after Batman is killed, “Hal… Ollie’s dead. Why didn’t it matter to us? What are we doing?” Yeah, I’d love the answer to that one too. Please? Thanks. Oh, wait… Zealot killed Batman:
• Justice League of America #22 (*): One. I hate the Amazo story from the opening arc. Two. I still hate it. Three. Why does every woman that Benes draws look like a total whore? Four. Black Canary serves it up fresh. Wait, that was awesome! Five. Red Tornado… don’t care!!!
• The Programme #12 (-): To be honest, I skimmed it and then read the end. Of what I read, I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about and I don’t really care to ever know.
• Runaways #30 (*1/2): It could have been worse. If you skip the first 15 or 16 pages, the wrap-up is kind of nice. My favorite/best part of this travesty? Finding out just how fucked up Nico has become.
• Amazing Spider-Man #563 (**1/2): Note to Bob Gale – Stop telling cheesy jokes. This has been a message from your readership.
• Superman #677 (*): Um, is this supposed to be in continuity? Superman talks like a fucking idiot! Misogyny? Check. Naiveté? Check. I mean, shit. The guy talks about his dog like a 7-year old would. How lame is this? I thought Robinson was this huge talent? And who the heck is this lame-ass Atlas character? GAH! I didn’t think it could get worse than the Busiek Superman run, but this one has shown me the error of my ways.
• Superman/Batman #49 (**1/2): I’m surprised how bad this was as compared to the other 5 parts of this story. The end just didn’t work for me. I don’t buy Lana Lang trying to poison the earth with Kryptonite in order to force Supes to leave, never mind the fact that she has been behind this plot the whole time. This is just ludicrous to me. This story is definitely out of continuity. I don’t see Johns or Robinson paying much attention to this particular change in the Clark/Lana dynamic. Oh, but I did like that final page (with Batman inside that vault filled with all types of Kryptonite): Yep, Bats is a douchebag.
• Trinity #3-4 (**): This book is boring. And ugly. Bagley doing DC characters just doesn’t look right. As much as I hate doing it, I’m dropping this book. Maybe if the plot picks up later, I’ll jump back in. For now, I’m just gonna ignore it. Sit it out like my pal, Superman.
• The Ultimates #4 (*): I don’t know what bugs me more? The awful plot or the “ripped straight from cheesy movie” dialogue? “Come with me if you want to live.” Really? REALLY?!?!
• Uncanny X-Men #499 (**1/2): I loved the first 4 parts… this was a jumbled mess. The A and B plot did not sync up well, every cutaway was painful, and the revelation that the mysterious hippie woman was Mastermind’s daughter was actually a non-event. Meanwhile, back in Russia… their faces: priceless.
• Wolverine #66 (*): MOST OVER-RATED BOOK OF THE YEAR. Everyone is literally jacking off into each other’s mouths over this one… I just don’t see it. This book is atrocious. So atrocious, someone needs to give it a red power ring. DING. I mean, BIG DEAL, Millar is adapting “Unforgiven” and using Wolverine to play the role of William Muny. I don’t care! Why!?!? Why is this a good idea? (And I like westerns…)
• X-Men: Legacy #213 (**): Are we ready for some super-retcons? So, let me break this one down: Mr. Sinister has a machine that in the event of his death will transfer his essence into the body of Professor X?
And on that note… I’ll post The Mediocres tomorrow, maybe. Hey, it’s the Fourth of July, I may be busy. Like, drinking and stuff.