- Posted by Johanna on July 16, 2011 at 9:15 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics
written by Bryan Q. Miller
art by Pere Perez
It’s so melancholy reading DC comics I enjoy these days, knowing that their days are numbered. It’s like the last month before school graduation. Everything seems more poignant. Only in that case, at least you have the promise of a reunion. Here, I don’t expect we’ll ever see these creators working on these characters again.
The majority of this issue wraps up a storyline that I wasn’t really following in a standard, big fight way. The art’s dynamic and attractive, though, and the surprise resolution made my heart happy, as a whole crew of girl heroes shows up to help. I loved Batgirl’s answer when the villain team is berating her for being weak for needing help:
“Given my line of work, knowing when I need someone watching my back only makes me stronger.”
Whose line of work doesn’t that apply to? This is what I read superhero comics for, strong women with amazing abilities using them successfully and making things better. Shame that that particular source of appeal seems to be lacking in DC’s new line.
This issue sets up what promises to be a dynamite next and last finale, as Stephanie finally confronts her father, the villain Cluemaster. At least the series is going out in big style.
Birds of Prey #14
written by Marc Andreyko
art by Billy Tucci, Adriana Melo, and JP Mayer
Speaking of girl heroes, it’s a darn shame that the woman who made this team so successful by writing real women instead of sexpots, Gail Simone, doesn’t get a chance to say goodbye to them. Instead, we get a retro-flavored fill-in. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had a fondness for the idiotically costumed Phantom Lady (ever since the weekly Action Comics days), and it’s fun to see her hanging out with the Birds in a cross-generational adventure, but … it would be a welcome thing to never see another Nazi in comics. They’re such an easy shortcut for “oooh, very bad guy”, and all the cliches tend to follow them: evil scientist, hidden jungle laboratory base, bwa-ha-ha grudges for revenge. Shouldn’t there be a time limit at this point on wanting to bring back “the new reich”? And wouldn’t it be easier, instead of kidnapping superheroines, just to work with Fox News, which is already halfway there?
The flashback art in the 40s section is firmly in the “let’s draw naked wimmens and color in clothes” camp, with lots of pinup style “here are my breasts” poses. So, in that way, the title’s come full circle, back to the idea that a comic starring female heroes is still aimed at the male reader, with women stuck with reading around the objectification and gleaning what enjoyment they can from what’s left.
Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2
written by Jeff Lemire
art by Ibraim Roberson, Alex Massacci
The only Flashpoint title I can stand reading, and one that gives me hope for the upcoming followup series. It’s the classic tale of a band of misfits who squabble but stay together because they have more in common than the world they help but can’t fit into. While most of the rest of the Flashpoint books are filled with gory battles, clumsy narration, and meaningless violence, this one is telling a story that really has nothing to do with the “event”.
The whole Flashpoint thing confuses me. I can’t figure out what we’re supposed to know about these characters. Most of the pieces depend on a familiarity already existing, if only with a name, but then twist it in six-year-old ways. “Wouldn’t it be cool if the Joker was related to Batman? If the Amazons killed all the men? If lightning fried the Flash?” No, not really. This is the same problem we’re going to be facing in September, as we’re given familiar properties with names we know, but the company will be purposefully unclear on whether favorite stories really happened. It sets the brands loose, without mooring, which they see as an opportunity to make them more film-friendly, but it will also make existing readers uncomfortable. Let’s hope the hypothetical new readers descend in droves to make it worthwhile.
Anyway, in this comic, the time-lost band of monsters are seeking more information about themselves. The fish-girl Nina is looking for her father’s hidden laboratory in the hopes it will provide clues, but first they have to defeat G.I. Robot (nifty! I never found that idea menacing before) and a monster hunter with a grudge. The last-page new character reveal suggests enough material for a miniseries in itself; shame there’s only one more issue.
This stand-alone story has a classic structure and predictable beats, but it’s an enjoyable read all the same. Let’s hope the new DCU still has room for stories like this, ones you can read without buying into the whole shebang.
The Unwritten #27
written by Mike Carey
art by Peter Gross
30s sequence finishes by Vince Locke
Self-indulgent, this is, in postulating secret clues within “junk culture” like a forgotten Golden Age superhero, but a good starting point all the same, if you haven’t yet sampled this intriguing metafictional tale. This new approach is part one of four, and it looks to be a great read.
The cool thing about this series is how its premise allows for all kinds of diversions and incorporations of just about anything related to reading. Child of fiction (in so many ways) Tom Taylor and his buddies are trying to figure out … well, life, meaning, all the biggies, while fighting against a mysterious, murderous cabal. In this issue, “The Tinker”, a precursor to Superman who used magical objects, is introduced as a potential source of clues. In one particularly cheeky moment, the heroes download a torrent of old comics to use while investigating the mystery. See? Shared digital comics can be a good thing!
The flashback art reminded me of the look of Sandman Mystery Theater, which is a good thing, and I loved the implications of the discovery of the author.