CAPSULE REVIEWS: DC Week 8 2008

A new (hopefully weekly) feature/challenge, where we’re reviewing ALL the books out in a week, at one paragraph maximum each. Let’s see how long I last!

From DC last week: Ollie gets physical in leather and mud, Lady Blackhawk dons some kinky skin-tight lycra, Superman meets his medieval ancestor, the Flash Twins steal his cape, Brother Eye eats a planet, Catwoman is seeing double, Red Tornado gets some useful appendages and Robin fights his addiction.

BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #4 (Chuck Dixon / Julian Lopez)

Green Arrow joins the Outsiders igniting sparks with Leather-Fetish Bat-Girl and a down-and-dirty swamp tussle. Dixon‘s making this a can’t miss title each month, as much as I came in prepared to hate due to the Blogosphere’s homophobic wolf-crying for the first issue; I can’t say I’ve noticed anything of the kind. Balanced characterization, consistent artist choices, great action, kick-ass casting. Whoduthunk it Katana could be a contender!

7/10

BIRDS OF PREY #115 (Sean McKeever / Nicola Scott)

Dare I say it? Under McKeever, this title has kept the same high standards of Gail’s run and even improved (or more appropriately returned to the excitement and focus of Gail’s first years on the job before she unwisely flooded the book with too many team members post-OYL). And has Nicola Scott finally mastered drawing Z without the lanky awkwardness? Huntress and Lady Blackhawk infiltrate Killer Shark’s volcanic base (a baddie from Zinda’s past) giving the girls a chance to bond while finally showing off Z’s Mad Skillz after being so long under-appreciated as nothing more than the Birds’ pilot. Meanwhile back at base Black Alice finally joins the official roster much to Misfit Bat-Girl‘s dismay, with the latter continuing her misguided ‘I’m the only teen in this village’ tantrums, building up to the inevitable Queen of All Ass-Slappings from mother-figure Oracle.

8/10

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #10 (Mark Waid / George Perez)

Damn has this title really lost focus. And I do mean really! Superman time-travels to team up with the Silent Knight (who?) against a silver dragon, while the original Teen Titans attend Aquaman’s Royal Weddings and get told off for not allowing Aqualad (remember Wet-Yourself Boy from last week’s POTW?) to come and play with the other Super-Kids. Two indifferent stories, sold as part of an equally indifferent over-arching story about some guy named Megistus. Can we please get back to Supergirl in biker leathers riding with Lobo’s space-chopper? The only reason that could excuse the split focus of each issue (last one had three team-ups) is it gives a chance for the magnificently timeless George Perez to draw more of the DCU before the title gets canceled.

5/10

CATWOMAN #76 (Will Pfeiffer / David Lopez)

It takes Catwoman 17 pages to figure out she’s on an alternate Earth– after landing in a parallel Bat-city, kicking a gun-toting Batman’s derrière, getting chased by Dini-esque police zeppelins and getting captured by a villainous second Catwoman. Honestly, after living through two Crises already, you’d think she would catch up faster. Even though the entire thought process is null and she’s still stuck on a terribly thought-out and intrusive Salvation Run tie-in which actually succeeds in hurting sales by alienating the regular readers. Despite Lopez’s stunning chase sequence, as far as alternate realities go (even fake ones) this is clearly a wash.

3/10

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #10 (Paul Dini/ Justin Gray/ Jimmy Palmiotti/ Scott Kolins)

Everyone’s finally on Apokolips, after 42 issues of inane build-up and vaguely thrilling individual odysseys. Mary Marvels up again, Harley and Holly get divine tricks of their own courtesy of the resurrected Marvel/Greek Pantheon and all three get set for the final show-down with Granny Goodness before someone beats them to the chase. Karate Kid gets the round-kick from the One Una (Wo)Man Army Corps and the Challengers hover around being ineffective as usual. Finally the Perturbed Piper cracks down in the hands of DeSaad and remixes the Anti-Life Equation into the Pop Hit to End All! Don’t be reluctant to dive in the series now, you really haven’t missed anything important; the writers have finally gotten their game right and the artists line-up for the last run is an impressive one, starting with Kolins this issue doing a remarkable job of channeling a bit of Kirby in just the right places!

5/10

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #18 (Alan Burnett/Ed Benes and Dwayne McDuffie/Jon Boy Meyers)

The JLA gets in a political tiff with Checkmate over jurisdiction and the fate of their super-villain prisoners (SALVATION RUN tie-in alert), but in the end it’s Vixen who stands alone against the new Suicide Squad in an okay-ish action sequence. It’s a good thing the rest of the DCU is slowly catching up to SR, but I still fail to see the appeal or the long-term ramifications of this move to exile super-villains on a Secret Wars style planet. In the back-up story, Red Tornado gets a new body with a host of DC’s brightest providing massive amounts of info-dump on his new status and capabilities. Just another day in the JLA mansion.

4/10

ROBIN #171 (Chuck Dixon / Chris Batista)

The book finally gets some much-needed stability with veteran scribe Dixon on board and Chris Batista replacing Freddie Williams as a better fit for the title’s needs. Robin is trying to track down the newest girl vigilante in Gotham: Violet, by riding his Robin-Mobile (I kid you not) into town and attending a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting. Dixon is certainly trying, weaving a new supporting cast into Tim’s life, trying to tie his crime-fighting with his partnership to Batman, his relationship and his school life. It doesn’t mesh well just yet, but the good intentions are appreciated. Chris Batista impresses with both his growth in character design and his panel compositions, guiding the reader through the story effortlessly.

5/10

The Robin-Mobile

Chris Batista teaching Storytelling Master-Class with how sneakily he guides the reader’s eye across the page. Like the magicians say ‘follow the coin’

 

WILDSTORM REVELATIONS #4 (Scott Beatty & Christos Gage / Wes Craig)

The Wild Girls continue their formulaic trek around the Wildstorm Universe, once more trying to connect the different ends of the post-WorldStorm revamped company. Backlash gets ready for her big date with her estranged daddy, the original Backlash Marc Sleyton, with Savant and Nemesis running interference and carrying out their individual objectives. I wasn’t familiar at all with the Backlash legacy, but the writers did a remarkable job of filling the reader in without it feeling too much like an info-dump. Revelations finally delivers on the long-awaited promise of a better Wildstorm, with cohesive writing, interesting stories with feeling and (finally) a new artist discovery in Wes Craig who has Future Superstar written all over him!

8/10

THE FLASH #237 (Keith Champagne / Koi Turnbull)

A fill-in breather acting as a change of guards between outgoing writer Mark Waid and incoming Tom Peyer. Linda takes the Flash Twins to Metropolis for training in the form of a scavenger hunt. The first item on the list? Superman’s Cape! All that, and the Gail Simone adaptation of Dini’s villain: Livewire. Lots of family fun, and energetic art in the vein of Duncan Rouleau. Worth a read, but nothing more than a stand-in.

5/10

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