Comics Ate My Brain

August 5, 2004

What’s This? Current Comics Reviews?

Filed under: batman, birds of prey, firestorm, justice league, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 8:27 pm
It was a light week, thank goodness.

Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure: Got to the comics shop this week in time to hear the following commentary on this one-shot:

“’12-Cent Adventure?’ Didn’t they just do a ’10-Cent Adventure?'”

“This is 2 cents better.”

Yeah, guess you had to be there — but it does drive home the point that the last retro-priced Batman one-shot introduced the marathon “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” arc, which many fans hated. (Come to think of it, Superman: The 10-Cent Adventure introduced the ill-received creative team of Steven T. Seagle and Scott McDaniel. Not the best track record for DC.) This one-shot introduces the 3-month “War Games” arc.

How was the issue itself? Not bad, actually. It’s told from the perspective of Spoiler, the recently fired Robin. Gotham erupts in gang riots when the underworld equivalent of the G-8 Summit ends in a bloodbath. There are quite a lot of gangsters, and it’s hard to keep track of them all. Hopefully “War Games” will help us keep ’em all straight. Spoiler also gives a brief history of the three Robins which preceded her, which gives me hope that the “Robin issue” will be resolved with this arc. By the way, it’s written by Devin Grayson and pencilled by Ramon Bachs. Heck, it’s only 12 cents. Make up your own mind.

Detective Comics #797: Written by Anderson Gabrych; pencilled by Pete Woods. Part 1 of “War Games” finds the Bat-people picking up the pieces of the ganglord bloodbath. A newsman — who may be a new character, but I won’t say I haven’t seen him before — breaks the story that yes, Virginia, Batman is real. (I’d like to think this puts the last nail in that stoopid “urban legend” trope.) Some mobsters think that Batman’s behind the killings, but Batman corrects them. Batgirl and fellow Bat-affiliate Orpheus save another couple of sets of mobsters. It’s all very chaotic with dark portents ahead. I’d still like a scorecard for the gangsters.

Birds of Prey #71: Written by Gail Simone, with art by Ron Adrian and Rob Lea that looks almost exactly like Ed Benes. Oracle recovers from her seizure, Savant tries to rehabilitate a crackhouse, Huntress brings Vixen back from the dark side, and Black Canary gets takeout. (Seriously, other than intimidating a pervert out of his laptop, she doesn’t do much else.) Superman makes a cameo. We get a look at the mysterious “god” the cult leader worships, and also at Oracle’s mysterious attacker. Last issue’s cliffhanger is resolved to my satisfaction. I’m still a little confused, but it’s a good kind of confused that makes me want to come back.

Justice League Elite #2: And then there’s this book…. “Not your daddy’s Justice League!” the cover proudly proclaims, but it would have had more punch if it felt like more of a connection to the mainstream League. As it is, there are only two recognizable JLAers in the group — I don’t count Manitou Raven or Major Disaster, since they aren’t old-school Leaguers — and the rest are all still ciphers to me. I read Action Comics #775 which introduced the Elite, and I read JLA #100 which had the Elite associated with the League. I still don’t know about this title. Probably my most petty peeve is the reference to the group as “JLE,” which for me will always be Justice League Europe (1989-96). So yes, clearly not my dad’s Justice League (which, incidentally, would have been the Justice Society), but for now Justice League in name only.

What happened in the issue? Well, basically Vera and company have to infiltrate something or other, something goes wrong, continued next issue. I’m still trying to figure out who’s who. Written by Joe Kelly, pencilled by Doug Mahnke.

DC Comics Presents Superman: The cover mandates that both stories must concern a Phantom Quarterback. The first story is written by Stan “the Man” Lee and drawn by Darwyn Cooke and “J. Bone” (which itself must be some kind of nickname). It’s a fluffy, silly affair involving a scientist who creates a quarterback robot to impress a girl. Superman referees the climactic game. Best bit of dialogue belongs to Superman: “Why would an invisible quarterback go into a college science lab? I wonder if there’s a mad scientist involved in this? Or maybe a sane one. Who knows?” The second story is more typical of the era from which the cover comes — a washed-up athlete enhances his performance with forbidden science, and Superman ends up having to stop him. It’s produced by Paul Levitz (story) and Keith Giffen (art), with inks by Al Milgrom. Not bad, but not groundbreaking either.

Firestorm #4: Written by Dan Jolley, with art by ChrisCross and Rob Stull. The new Firestorm becomes the target of a fatal-attractive woman with weird absorptive powers. Before that, however, he wears a chicken suit and meets Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter. Apparently one aspect of his new powers is the need to “fuse” with someone — anyone — to become Firestorm. This time it’s a homeless person who gives Jason/’Stormy some sage advice. I wonder if the “random-person” angle will become a regular feature of this book, or if Jason will assemble a “stable” of partners. Either way, it’s a new way of looking at the old Firestorm setup, and one that made the book a lot more intriguing to me. ChrisCross’s art is pleasantly reminiscent of his creepy-cute people in the old Captain Marvel series, so I’ll be sorry to see him go in a few issues.

And that’s the end! Hooray!

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