Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws #2

I had mixed feelings with the first issue and ultimately labeled it a “guilty pleasure”.   I enjoyed much of it, but Starfire’s over sexualization mixed in with seemingly forgetting (explained basically as not caring) her entire past on Earth did not sit well with me.  This issue doesn’t really explain the latter part, but it shouldn’t be upsetting anyone.  At least it didn’t for me.

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 3)

I’m continuing my Retrospective for the Teen Titans with the Teens Titans/Legion of Superheroes crossover and issues 16-19 (collected in trade as The Future is Now).  Handling a lot with these issues, so I’ll try to keep it from being too long.  I do want to state though that these issues are some of my favorites of this Teen Titans group and Johns is joined by writer Mark Waid for the Legion cross over.

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 1)

I’m a fan of the Teen Titans, especially the latest incarnation that went from 2003-2011 and as this relaunch makes it seem their entire history may be erased, I wanted to give them a farewell starting with issues 1-7 (also collected in trade form as “A Kid’s Game” or the soon to be released Teen Titans Omnibus 1).  Like usual, beware of spoilers.

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Video Review: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies *Spoilers*


This is an early review of Warner Brother’s latest direct to video DC animated feature.  WB Animation has a really good track record with these releases.  I feel that the production values of the DCU features have been superior to most direct-to-video releases.  And “Public Enemies” is no exception.  In fact, it may be the best-looking release to date if you like the Ed McGuiness-inspired artwork.

When “Public Enemies” was announced, I have to admit I was a little disappointed.  I read Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman.  For me, Superman/Batman was when Loeb embraced big, stupid spectacle over well-written comics.  “Public Enemies” made no sense.  But Loeb didn’t seem to care as long as he gave McGuiness plenty of big, splashy fight scenes to draw.

The animated adaptation of “Public Enemies” is no different in that respect.  The plot follows the same thin storyline.  A huge Kryptonite meteor is headed to earth and President Luthor uses it as an opportunity to vilify Superman and Batman.  It’s mostly an excuse for Batman and Superman to square off against guest star after guest star.

If anything, the animated version of “Public Enemies” is even bigger and more stupid than the comic book source material.  Just about every action any character takes is completely devoid of any rational explanation.  If the plot requires that a character needs to be convinced of Superman’s innocence, then one of Luthor’s conspirators conveniently confesses to his crimes within ear shot.  It’s that kind of movie.

However, big, dumb animated fight scenes are not without their charms.  There’s a certain fanboy thrill to watching Superman and Batman duke it out with Hawkman and Captain Marvel even if the fight defies any kind of logic.  And the scene in which an army of villains descend on the heroes in order to collect Luthor’s bounty of one billion dollars is fun if for no other reason than to see the random assortment of villains who are included.

This sort of spectacle plays better in a cartoon than it does a comic book.  And the fact that the cartoon does not include Loeb’s annoying Batman/Superman alternating narration is a big plus.

Another major selling point is the voice work.  The main voices are familiar to long-time fans of Bruce Timm’s animation.  Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown all return as Batman, Superman and Lex Luthor respectively.  Also, CCH Pounder reprises the role of Amanda Waller from Justice League Unlimited.  If only they could have gotten Macolm McDowell and Dana Delaney to reprise their roles as Metallo Lois Lane.

The numerous guest stars in the film include a number of notable cameos.  Smallville’s Allison Mack plays the buxom and doe-eyed Power Girl.  And John C. McGinley of “Scrubs” takes over the role of Metallo.  These are probably the most significant supporting roles and honestly they are too minor to make much of a difference.

Much like the comic it was based on, “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” wears it’s stupidity like a badge of honor.  There’s no reason to buy this disc.  No one is going to want to watch it repeatedly.  But if you are in the mood for some truly mindless superhero smashing, “Superman/Batman” is worth a rental.

Compared with other WB releases, this one ranks high for its production values and low in just about every other way.  “Wonder Woman” is still the disc to beat overall.


JLA: the New Line-Up


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. 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.