Working our way through June, exactly a month ago we saw the return of Brainiac & Plastic Man, Blue Beetle’s demise, Savage Diana, nude Barbara Gordon on Catwoman action, nude Nightwing on Starfire action, and Tiny Titans East!
ACTION COMICS #866
(Geoff Johns / Gary Frank / Jon Sibal)
‘Brainiac’ part 1. Geoff Johns knows no bounds. In the relatively small time he’s been on Superman’s flagship title, he has continuously struggled to up his game with every issue. Kicking off with the introduction of the one true Zod, introducing Superman’s ‘son’, redefining Superman’s teen years and redesigning the Fortress of Solitude, answering ‘whatever happened to the Legion of Super-Heroes after they grew up’ and re-introducing the concept of Bizarro World… Johns is writing this title like there’s no tomorrow and no ‘holy cows’, writing the ultimate take on every aspect of Superman’s history.
This month, he tackles… the ultimate Brainiac story.
We’re treated to a flashback of Brainiac’s famous bottling of the city of Kandor (with the added perspective of Zod and his allies), segueing into a modern-day attack in Kansas, and a mysteriously melancholic look at Brainiac himself. Meanwhile, over in the offices of the Daily Planet, a lot of classic faces make a return while the entire cast mysteriously transforms into their actor counterparts from the Donner Superman movies. I wonder if DC is paying Christopher Reeves’ family compensation for using his likeness in such an obvious way that it felt spooky at times. There’s tribute and reverence to the classic form– and then there’s just simple anachronism and fanboy obsession taking the reader out of the story. Greg Manuel goes more in depth about this in his column at the Nexus.
BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #18
(Fabian Nicieza / Kevin Maguire)
‘The Bat & The Cat’ part 2. Naked Girl on Girl action in Gotham’s Elite Orgy Club? Oh, no, you didn’t!
Barbara Gordon drops her cape (and dignity) chasing Catwoman inside the nudist club, in the two ladies’ most tongue-in-cheek chase and fight yet! Pure unabashed shameless fanboy self-indulgence – in a good way! If this was drawn by anyone other than Kevin Maguire I would be too disgusted to pick this up, but his larger-than-life designs and humanizing facial expressions make this a joy to behold.
BOOSTER GOLD #10
(Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz / Dan Jurgens / Norm Rapmund)
‘Blue & Gold’ part 5. Let’s recap. Booster Gold travels back in time; he saves old pal Blue Beetle from his ultimate demise before Infinite Crisis; the butterfly effect puts Max Lord & his Checkmate/OMACs as the supreme dictator of the present; Blue & Gold reunite the Justice League International and take Lord down; meanwhile Booster’s dad leads the Time Stealers to sabotage Booster’s time-sphere, effectively erasing him from existence in T-minus 10…9…8…
Phew. It’s been an insanely enjoyable and convoluted plot to get us here to the final showdown between JLI and the Time Stealers. Johns has lost control of the plot destiny at some point, resulting in a quite huzzuh moment here – the Time Stealers themselves (Despero, Ultra-Humanite, Degaton: all major-league DC baddies) barely get any panel time, despite the insane amount of set-up in this title, JLA and JSA, with all the spotlight shining on Booster’s dad and the surprise reveal of the true mastermind.
The ending resolution was of course inevitable as all puzzle pieces are put back into the toy chest and the status quo is restored. Dissapointing to say the least, as I was rooting along with Booster for a permanent return of the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, at least in these pages. What good is this series if it can only tease about toppling the status quo, but never get any real wind behind it…
GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #9
(Judd Winnick / Mike Norton / Mike Faucher)
‘A League of Their Own’ part 1.
Best news out of the recent weeks’ convention circuit? Judd Winnick is off this title as of #12! Ah, about time.
Actually not much to comment on this issue. Ollie and Dinah stumble upon Plastic Man and spend the issue chatting about nothing much, while Speedy and her new (tragically stereotyped) British renegade beau (who tries for James Bond but ends up with Remy LeBeau) fight off against the super-powered League of Assassins while spending too much time with ineffectual (and sadly un-entertaining) quips — and even more time strangely quipping about their constant quipping – which unfortunately (since this isn’t a Peter David comics) doesn’t excuse the general annoyance of the whole affair.
SALVATION RUN #7
(Matthew Sturges / Sean Chen / Walden Wong & Wayne Faucher)
Last Issue. Lots of stuff blows up, Vandal’s wives form a revenge club, the Rogues shine together, Grodd returns, some evil guys die and Luthor gets to be the Hero for the Villains. The finale didn’t have as many gripping moments as past issues, while Sean Chen’s return on art meant that even the few good moments were utterly squandered through amateurish-looking art. Sigh…
The final tally? I could have used without ever having read this mini…
TINY TITANS #5
(Art Baltazar & Franco)
Funny thing, the issue sports an inside ad for Justice League Unlimited, whose final issue came out only a week before! Smart campaigning, DC…
The story itself? The Titans East are here, modelled after the recent Geoff Johns villainous team: Inertia, Sungirl, Risk, Kid Crusader, Enigma and Duela Dent. Most of them don’t make more than a cameo appearance; Inertia gets his laughs off Kid Flash in the quikest round-the-world race, Enigma floors Speedy with her (admittednly hilarously paced) lame jokes, while Duela Dent and the rest get their laughs off poor Robin/Nightwing. Meanwhile, Bat-girl Barbara Gordon (the absolute cutest Tiny Titan) spends the day with Robin as they attempt to pile up and dress like Batman to report in Police HQ.
These vignettes keep getting better with each issue, although they still skate on a fine line between Kids comics and geekboy fan-service (like the sea of in-jokes and the inclusion of obscure Titans continuity at every turn), as well as still trying to master some pacing issues… Disney Comics are also aimed at kids but they don’t need to use such blindingly-big size fonts, or stick to a page-munching three-panel grid…
(Judd Winnick / Joe Benitez)
The Titans are hot on the trail of Trigon and his child(ren), stumbling into one of the oldest tricks in the book: Divide & conquer with a side of emotional manipulation as they’re trapped into bickering, fighting and -cough-having sex-cough- (hey it IS a Winnick book) with each other…
I can’t say I still see the point of this book existing still, diluting the already too-thin Titans franchise with a badly thought-out spin-off/companion piece…
Joe Benitez… His Starfire is indeed a thing of absolute style and beauty, and Beast Boy is growing on me – slooooowly. The rest of the cast? Ugh… I guess if DC must absolutely use him somewhere, he’s better off paired with the sex-obsessed Winnick than muddying up McDuffy’s JLA.
(Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza / Mark Bagley & Tom Derenick / Art Thibert & Wayne Faucher)
Superman goes planet smashing, Wonder Woman tries for a personal best at giant robot smashing and Batman gets scarier than ever with cold focused mental control as the shady villains make their first move. Meanwhile a very badly-drawn Jon Stewart Green Lantern fights off against an amusing couple of alien villains. Why is tom Derenick and Sean Chen still finding regular employment in DC baffles me, and I’ll continue moaning about it each week for your enjoyment until they no longer do…
If this second issue is any indication, we can look forward to a very snaily pace for the rest of the book’s year; the writing is still enjoyable, as is the way the two writers intertwine their stories and feed off each other.
WONDER WOMAN #21
(Gail Simone / Aaron Lopresti /Matt Ryan)
‘Ends of the Earth’ part 2. This arc is quickly losing my interest as the sword & sorcery elements take over, and Diana gets deeper into her Xena the Savage headtrip. Guest-starring Beowuld (pass), a Loki facsimile, and the trollish uncredited… Conan? I have tremendous confidence in Gail Simone’s simple destiny to write this title into the Top 20, but I do hope this Red Sonya phase passes quickly…
HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE #3
(Ivory Madison / Cliff Richards / Art Thibert)
A little less talk, a little more action…
Helena foils a kidnapping, touches base with an old friend in a surprising new outfit, and gets her own super-hero threads. The series keeps getting less and less interesting, as we move away from the drama and clever dialogue, and further into super-hero territory.
YOUNG LIARS #4
(David Lapham / David Lapham)
The Love Boat issue!
Our young pack of liars have boarded a cruiseship, sailing to escape the Pinkertons (the surreal ultra-sneaky masters of disguise private investigators) and the authorities (for murdering one of the aforementioned detectives), in search of the hidden booty detailed in the (dubious) treasure map.
What happens on the ship, almost stays on the ship:
Our loser protagonist Danny wakes up, bound, gagged, with a shrivelled-up wee-wee and a virgin blood stain on his sheets.
Our insanely innocent schizoid Sadie goes cruiseship-skiing on a silver platter and nude-pirating (plus she might be involved in the previous scenario in some bloody manner)
Our towering romantic trannie Donnie discovers the joys of scrapbooking
Our ambitious slutty band floosie Big C realises her ugly future
and our anorexic model Annie X gets a nasty anxiety attack in the face of old age.
Lapham defies the nasty tongues who dismissed this new title as an easy money-grab in between Stray Bullets issues, and keeps surprising us with the depth and desperation of his new regular cast. A weird, definitely Vertigo, mix of Childrens’ Crusade, big concept action moments, the ‘sex, drugs & rock’n’roll’ trifecta and a pessimistically introspective look at the human condition. Oh yeah, and lies, lies, and more lies!
Tags: DCU, JLA, Superman, Teen Titans, Vertigo, Wonder Woman