DC Reads & Reviews: 4/11/07 Edition

Opinions on the Work of People Far More Talented Than I

Much like my Marvel reviews, these seemed to get a healthy response. Thus, I’m hoping I can do it ongoing under the new, ultra-witty heading of “DC Reads & Reviews”.

52 Week 49

I have always said that a good mad scientist losing his find is bound to be fun and this issue proves that axiom. Doc Magnus flips out and saves the day from the inside of the Oolong Island compound although, when all is said and done, he’s not entirely sure who he is.

If that’s all there was to the issue, I’d be happy. But, this installment also features some more greatness from T.O. Morrow, Egg Fu really stepping up, a moment between Atom Smasher and Black Adam that screams “now all is lost,” and the revelation of who’s been paying and supporting Oolong Island all along.

52, as of late, has been at its best when focusing on those wacky scientists or Black Adam and this issue, having both, reinforces that.

B

All-Star Superman #7

My least favorite issue so far in this series is still pretty damn good. Quitely’s art steals the show as he depicts the Bizarros as pillars of mashed potato-like substance just waiting for another something to mimic to become fully formed. Also good news in the art department is that Quitely continues to masterfully overcome his biggest weakness, faces (especially female), by producing distinct, unsmushed visages for all players including a genuinely pretty Lois.

On the writing side, Morrison does some funny stuff with Mike Lombardo and Superman’s subtle explanation of how the sports writer could manage to have been “Bizarro-ed”. Morrison also manages to make Bizarro speak palatable, rather than either dumb or overwhelming (as it most often is) and even rings a laugh from Superman translating his double’s statement of surrender on the spot.

However, the whole thing lacks the pop of All-Star’s best installments (Jimmy Olsen’s solo issue, last issue’s revisitation of Pa Kent’s death). There’s no particular shortcoming to point to, but when a book consistently is genius, that’s a hard standard to maintain.

Still, it’s final grade is nothing to sneeze at as it is a…

B+

JLA Classified #37

Well, here it is, some four years later. Milligan’s Kid Amazo tale has arrived. New artist, new format, but I finally have it.

And it is highly…okay.

Which is, of course, disappointing.

The problem is that it is an incredibly fast read that feels very “surface-y”. I hesitate to label it a setup issue because it feels too thin for that. If this is the “setup” than you could end the whole she-bang next issue without rushing. No, I suspect, given the pedigree, that there is more depth to the story yet unrevealed.

While that’s great, because who doesn’t enjoy a story that turns out to be more than it initially appears, the tale at least needs to start out appearing to be something. Anything, really. What we have here is very skeletal and ripe with cliché.

I do like his Amazo though. And the art was decent.

C+

Tales of the Unexpected #7

FINALLY! Cris Allen goes proactive. Sadly, it is a bit too little, too late for my tastes. The montage in the beginning of this issue, in addition to be the most gruesome yet (YAY!), did exactly what the past six issues have been trying to do and did it as successfully. In fact, if this is how issue #1 opened, it might’ve been perfect. As it stands though, it is just more tired, nihilistic carnage piled on top of an already impressive mound.

Meanwhile, in the infinitely more popular (and just plain better) Dr. 13 story, Count Julian gets a reprieve and a name change from the Architects (who, in a great little gimmick, dress exactly as their 52 counterparts were plus masks of DC characters they are currently or usually associated with), I, Vampire’s sexuality is scoffed at, Infectious Lass gets sad, Captain Fear fulfills his destiny, and Dr. Thirteen decides it is high time to take the fight to them rather than the other way around. It is goofy, irreverent, and glorious.

Lead Story: C
Backup: A

Teen Titans #45

This very disjointed installment is full of neat bits, but fails to gel as a cohesive whole.

On art, while I missed Daniel on pencils, I admit that Barrionuevo stepped in nicely and made the transition much easier to swallow. My only problem was the way her drew the back of Deathstroke’s head. Yup, that’s way nitpicky, but for some reason it stuck out and distracted me.

Hey, I never said I was an insightful art critic.

Beechen’s assumption of script writing duties was equally smooth. He too had one glaring tick that pulled me out of the story, that being the constant need to comment on how similar Match was to Connor. Seriously, it gets ridiculous when at, one point, Robin and Wonder Girl say it or think it each page for a stretch of about five pages. Also, how could he remind them of Connor? He’s chalk white, sort of crumbly looking, speaks with that stupid Bizarro backwards talk in a voice, I imagine, would have to be a bit different than Connor’s. Does anyone in jeans and a black and red Superman tee-shirt become Connor-like? Are they really that grief stricken?

Anyway, I’m overstating my case a bit there. With the exception of that tick, you’d be hard pressed to notice Johns isn’t writing the book anymore.

He is, however, plotting it and thus the scattershot nature of this issue is distressing. It’s like the book wants to be everywhere at once and has decided to do just that instead of picking what might be most compelling or could’ve worked in a later (or earlier, I suppose) issue of this arc. The whole thing has a frantic tone that does not accommodate my nerves very well.

C

Gen 13 #7

The last of the Gen 13 issues I had been locked into buying will also be my last issue of Gen 13. How a book featuring Caitlin Fairchild in an animal skin bikini fails to be fun or entertaining is a bit of a mystery to me, but there it is.

C-

Stormwatch PHD #6

This issue is a pitch perfect setup issue for new readers. It nicely establishes all the major players of the good and bad sides. It lays out the general framework of the “universe” of the book. Then, it immediately shakes things up with a betrayal and an invasion. Gage presents it all with a confident verve that is hard not to buy into.

It doesn’t hurt that I am a big fan of stories that see the heroes caught unaware by their nemeses and it falls to their weakest member (or members) to rally and win the day (see also: JLA 1-4). And I mean weakest in terms of superpowers, just in case you were confused.

If you haven’t been buying Stormwatch, you need to be and this is the perfect issue to snag to do that. Very well done.

A-