Come closer, traveler….. What is it you seek? Perhaps, mm, some reviews of last week’s DC titles might not go amiss….? Take a seat by the fire. Warm those wet bones. Listen to… my opinions!
Actual quotes from Batgirl: “Motorcycle chase. Yes!” “Definitely not a D&D session.” “Piece… of… Cake. Preferably German Chocolate.”
I’m all for quips, but c’mon. These aren’t quips. These aren’t even jokes. They’re what happens when someone who thinks they aren’t funny tells a joke: a completely regular sentence with a little bit of extra emphasis on one word or another. The things being said aren’t amusing in and of themselves, but for some reason, the context is expected to make them so. This does not work. Besides the absolutely unnecessary quippiness and the fact that Barbara Gordon is not Oracle (a fact which I will never forgive and hopefully at some point forget), there’s some okay writing in here. The villain is actually slightly compelling (for a little while), and there is a tiny bit of detective work going on in this issue. In fact, it’s the best issue of Batgirl we’ve had in a while – although that’s a bit like saying it’s the least soggy Cheerio in the cereal bowl. The art’s fine enough. It’s decent.
Buy it? Why would you want to? There are at least two or three better bat-books out this week alone. If you want to read good Barbara, read something from the 90s.
Bane: Conquest #12
Chuck Dixon finishes up his little return to the glory days much as he began it: Squarely in the 90s. Everything from the writing to the art harkens back to the times when Dixon wrote four out of five bat-books on the shelves and every story was a story about a violent gang, ideally one with a lot of guns or a lot of martial arts experts or a lot of, like, snakes and animal motifs? I dunno. All I know for sure is that Dixon only knows how to write one kind of story and I’m a little tired of it. Sure, Batman and Bane get along a little bit. It’s cute, I guess. But it’s the only new thing in the whole comic! I could swear I read something with almost the exact same plotline as this series somewhere in the 90s, and I could swear that it was written by Dixon too! But I will say that the older coloring style did bring back some really nice memories, so they get plenty of credit for that. And it’s always nice to see Bane’s character as his creator sees him.
Buy it? If you miss the 90s? Sure! If not? Eh.
Batman Beyond #21
A future-y upgrade to the “everyone hates Batman” style of Batman story. I’m sure you’ve read at least one storyline like that, right? “Bruce Wayne – Murderer!” Or something along those lines, where the police and the rest of Gotham are all trying to hunt Batman down for some murder that Bats got framed for. There’s at least one of those every four or five years, and apparently, Batman Beyond is no exception. This time, though, some enemy of Terry is making people see him as a kind of monster, and it’s kinda fun! Batman Beyond Rebirth has been a little hit-and-miss, with some storylines being cool and other ones just sort of passing through without making eye contact. This one might be the second since Rebirth that has made me actually sit up and take a little notice, but only a little. I’m not sold yet. The art doesn’t help, either. It’s not very dynamic, and it’s a victim of the modern illness where too-small hatching starts fighting with the color, producing a bizarre texture that’s not very pleasing to the eye.
Buy it? If you’re a Batman Beyond fan, then yes. It’s not worth it otherwise.
The Hellblazer #23
Look, you can call him Constantine all you like, but the fact of the matter is that if he can’t bloody swear he’s not bloody well Constantine. “Capestantine” is a bane on the character’s existence, and not even Tim Seeley’s usually sharp character sense is enough to save one of the edgiest characters of all time from the Flanderization he’s been forced to undergo. This story is a perfectly fine supernatural-adventure-type deal, but Constantine should not be DC’s magical mainstay. He is not Dr. Strange. If DC wants a magical heavy hitter to give their generic supernatural stories too, they should call up Zatanna. Or Dr. Fate, or Dr. Occult, or Sargon the sorceror or anyone whose personality and tone isn’t as well-established as Constantine’s. The art is okay. The proportions are slightly odd, the texturing isn’t too bad, and the colors are fine. The linework has a slight charcoal-y quality about it, which I like, but it’s just not interesting to look at. This is partially due to the subject matter, but the artists just plain could have done better in my opinion.
Buy it? No! No. Be good to yourself.
Mera: Queen of Atlantis #5
It’s like Game of Thrones, but with way fewer breasts and way more bubbles! This issue is pretty much entirely politics, and not great politics at that. Political storylines – in my opinion – are at their best when they’ve got a lot of words. Comics – in my opinion – are at their best when words and actions come together to create something new and better. Superhero comics are not made for a bunch of people talking to each other about underwater laws. Now, don’t get me wrong. The politics here aren’t terrible – they’re actually fairly solid! But fairly solid politics makes for a kind of boring comic, and that’s what we’ve got. The art’s nothing to write home about either.
Buy it? If you’re as big of a Mera fan as I am, then why not? It’s a limited series and I wouldn’t mind owning it. But don’t expect greatness or anything.
Raven: Daughter of Darkness #6 out of 12
Bringing a close to the current story arc, this issue has its faults. Its main fault is bringing a close to the story arc. Or rather, having multiple story arcs at all. It’s a twelve-issue miniseries! Does Wolfman know that miniseries are supposed to be one contained narrative? Because he seems to be trying to write an ongoing that’s been pre-cancelled. This is not what miniseries are made to do, and Wolfman is (in my humble opinion) misusing a golden opportunity. That said, it’s fine enough. It’s nice to see Raven back in action, in a form that’s somewhat more recognizable than her current Teen Titans state. The character development isn’t half bad either, and while it’s not exactly Shakespeare it’s still better than some other things on the shelves. The art is that DC standard semi-realism no-motion-blur gunk that I see everywhere these days, and I’m not impressed. It just…. Looks like a comic book. There’s nothing about it that excites me.
Buy it? I’ve had to say it a lot this week, but only if you’re a fan of the character or of the author. Aside from that, it won’t interest you.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #47
In potentially the weakest entry in an otherwise very good arc, Venditti turns Gardner into even more of a mad-machine than usual. Here’s the problem with changing Guy’s character: He’s Guy. He has potentially the least flexible set of characteristics out of any of the Earth lanterns. There is a very small Guy sweet spot that is easy to hit if you’re trying but impossible as soon as you try to concentrate on anything else. A G-spot, if you will. And Venditti does not, in fact, hit the G-spot in this issue. “But Quinn!” You rasp, centuries-old air passing between your mummified lips, “that’s the whole point of the Darkstar mantle!” You’ve got a point, but that doesn’t change the fact that an out-of-character Guy is just a bad character. I am absolutely certain that a subtler touch on Venditti’s part could have made Darkstar Guy much closer to the actual character. Other than that, it was fine. The sequences with Hal and Hammond are pretty solid (though I am beginning to tire of the “villain trying to make the hero better” trope), there’s a couple pages devoted to Kyle, and John is conspicuously absent, which is kind of a shame since he’s had the best writing in this run. The ending sets us up for a smashing conclusion, but I do worry that it just won’t be as satisfying as it should be. The art’s a touch above average. It’s got hatching but suffers from some slight image compression so the hatching doesn’t always make pleasant textures.
Buy it? Sure, why not? If only so that you don’t have an issue missing between the last one and the finale…