Atom #19, Supergirl #25, JLA Classified #49, Teen Titans Year One #1

All-New Atom #19 — A classic fill-in issue, with the first page featuring the hero thinking about all the things going on in the “regular” title storyline, before the rest of the book becomes about an unrelated adventure. Some have of his buddies have been exploring an abandoned mine, and they haven’t returned in days. The Atom goes after them, with text lumps conveniently explaining heavy-handed plot needs to keep the story going: the radio must not work at that depth, no one can excavate because the ground gives way, and so on.

A scary underground inbred community living like its the 1800s has already been done, and much better, by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving in Klarion the Witch Boy. Here, it feels very by-the-numbers, and the “hero” is just along for the ride. He falls into a cavern, where he’s thrown deeper, and he’s freed from imprisonment because someone else gets a crush on him. He doesn’t take any positive action or solve any problems on his own, even to the point of standing by helplessly while his best friend is dragged off to presumed death. The resolution only comes about through some pseudo-scientific claptrap leading to a punch and the bad guy going poof.

I don’t understand why inker Keith Champagne keeps getting writing work. His plotting is mundane and his dialogue even more cliched. Expectations these days should be higher.

Supergirl #25 — The first page features before-and-after shots of Kara’s best friend as a skull-crushed skeleton. This is really what gets approved by the Comic Code Authority these days? I guess it goes along with the creepy Terminator ad featuring a girl’s head, breasts, and armless torso. Doesn’t make me want to watch the TV show (even if it is River from Firefly). Instead, it makes me ponder when female dismemberment (even if she is a robot) became an attractive advertising feature.

Back to Supergirl. Apparently, she’s having disturbing flashbacks about remembering how her world was destroyed. I guess it’s a benefit that today’s superhero comics can acknowledge post-traumatic stress disorder instead of the earlier generation’s “gee, it’s good to be here, cousin Kal!” I do wish it was handled more substantially, though. Or at all. Superman tries to talk to her, but the sum total of his message is “I feel it too”. So it’s always about you, dude? She reaches out, he bails… And then we get the other half of the issue, pointless fight time. I couldn’t even tell what was supposed to be happening during some of it. And nothing’s resolved, the better to try and bring the readers back next issue.

This was a waste of my time. Nothing about it was interesting or worth looking at.

JLA Classified #49 — This issue is a typical example of the problems of increasing continuity. I was intrigued by the cover, promising to focus on “those left behind” (which, from the image, was girlfriends, wives, and Alfred). The cover is misleading, by the way, instead being mostly a conversation between Alfred and Lois Lane when Bruce Wayne ducks out on an interview with her because the JLA is off fighting aliens.

I have no context for this story, so when Lois, greeting a returning Superman, says “we don’t know each other well”, I’m left wondering. Is this story set years ago? (Yet Lois uses a Blackberry.) Has DC decided they’re not married? That she’s married to Clark but doesn’t know he’s Superman? It’s the only thing that sticks with me after reading, and that distraction does the story a disservice.

I’ve just noticed I haven’t bothered to mention the art in any of these comics. It’s the generic mediocrity so common to DC these days. Competent, but nothing outstanding or memorable.

Teen Titans Year One #1 — Always good to end on a high note. This is great stuff. I’m immediately interested in the characters and the mystery. Batman’s going berserk, way too grim on minor criminals, and Robin’s asking for help from other kid heroes. This is the best portrayal of what it would be like to be Kid Flash I’ve ever seen, with pages capturing the boredom he feels in only a few minutes.

Writer Amy Wolfram really gets what it’s like to be young, with the kids communicating through IM and believable attitudes, ably backed up by Karl Kerschl, Serge LaPointe, and Steph Peru. Terrific stuff, made better by the way the text and art work together and Wolfram is willing to rely on the pictures to tell her story.

Similar Posts: Looking for Supergirl § Archie as Superman § Latest DC Announcement Teams Superman and Wonder Woman § Supergirl #18 § Where Did the Supporting Cast Go?

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