Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Power of Isis & Crimes Against Nightwing

Hey Fanboys & Girls,

Technical difficulties have kept us from posting until to today even though wevhad items ready to go—those same tech difficulties are preventing us from posting art on our page so until we figure out the problem y’all will just have to use your imaginations.

So without further delay, here is FanBoyWonder’s take on the books we picked up for the last week of July.

52—Week Twelve

The upshot from DC Comics: Black Adam finds love in the arms of mythology in WEEK 12, with Art by Eddy Barrows and Rob Stull. Isis is here! Plus the debut of the new SECRET ORIGINS backup featuring the origin of Wonder Woman by Mark Waid and Adam Hughes!

We’ve been hot and cold on 52…mainly depending on who is being featured. We like the Steel story line as we feel his heartbreak of a family member who has betrayed him and hurt him deeply (we can relate), we were under whelmed by the debut of Batwoman last week, the Booster Gold story line is annoying while Ralph Dibny’s investigation of the Cult of Conner (dedicated to the deceased Superboy) has finally gotten a bit interesting.

However, the start of this issue was Black Adam. The one-time enemy, one-time ally and opposite number of Captain Marvel has been the most interesting character in 52, which has built upon the seeds JSA writer Geoff Johns planted during Adam’s time with the Justice Society of America.

As we’ve noted, Black Adam is the most dangerous type of villain—the one who doesn’t believe he is bad but who will do bad things in a ruthless way to do what he considers the “greater good.”

As an aside, we have enjoyed the addition of a black cape, similar to the white cape of Captain Marvel. It’s a very subtle way of demonstrating Adam’s vanity while visually illustrating that the two possessors of the Power of SHAZAM are polar opposites but while retaining striking similarities.

Speaking of SHAZAM, last issue we found out that when Black Adam speaks the wizard’s name, there is no magic lighting and no transformation. This issue, Adam goes to the Rock of Eternity to investigate and he takes with him Adrianna, the mortal woman who dared stand up to him and of course he’s become quite smitten with her.

During their talks, she has urged him not to let his power corrupt him. Adam, she says, has spent too much time picking fights with American super heroes around the world and forging international alliances and has NOT done enough to help his people.

At the Rock of Eternity, we see that Billy Batson remains trapped in his Captain Marvel form and perhaps even trapped at the Rock, on the throne of wizard SHAZAM. Marvel’s powers have increased a hundred-fold since SHAZAM’s death at the hands of the Spectre during Days of Vengeance but all the power is taking a toll on Billy he is plagued by the voices of not just the elders/gods but the Seven Deadly Sins.

Adam wants to bring Adrianna “into the Marvel family” by sharing the power of Isis and become her namesake. Her lighting transformation into Isis is impressive and it provided wonderful flashback to Saturday mornings during the mid-70s (those of you FBW’s age or older…will take our meaning…for the rest of you youngins….forget it).

So Black Adam has a peer and a partner…and we shall see if she can save him or if power will corrupt them both.

Birds of Prey # 96

The Upshot: Part 1 of the new story arc "Headhunting!" Black Alice returns and finds herself in a struggle between good and evil. The Birds of Prey want to make sure she uses her powers over magic for good, but mysterious enemies want to make sure she doesn't!

While the start of this story arc with Black Alice was quite good, what we most enjoyed about this issue was the beginning of the issue…the Birds, all dressed in funeral clothes, enjoying breakfast and catching up. Gail Simone yet again does a great job giving distinct personalities to this ensemble female team.

What we enjoyed most of all was the Birds’ reason for gathering…to pay their respects to the grave of the murdered Ted Kord—the Blue Beetle.

It was a sweet gesture that took no more than a couple of pages but given that since Beetle’s murder by Maxwell Lord (with Batman’s negligent complicity) in the pages of Countdown, little attention has been paid to it.

Even Oracle/Barbara Gordon notes that “they couldn’t wait to build a statue to Superman” when he “died”…at least the Birds of Prey and their writer remembered.

Nightwing #122

The Upshot: When the dust settles, there will be only one Nightwing — but the price of victory may be too much to bear. Don't miss the ending of this roller-coaster ride, and the beginning of a brand new chapter in the lives of Nightwing and Dick Grayson!

This book has been suffering ever since Chuck Dixon left it. We didn’t agree entirely with Dixon’s take on Nightwing but at least he made the character both cool AND relevant.

Past writer Devin Grayson had a clear love of the Nightwing character but failed miserably (some was not her fault but some was) to translate that love into stories that were coherent, kinetic or even just plain interesting.

But Bruce Jones…this story arc, this issue, this writer …sucks!!!! Given Dan Didio’s recent comment’s about his wanting Nightwing to die during Infinite Crisis….one can’t help but wonder if Bruce Jones was commissioned to do a hit job on the Dick Grayson character.

As much as we love Nightwing, we had been on the verge of dropping this book until we heard that Marv Wolfman, Nightwing’s “co-creator” is coming on board for a four-issue story arc and perhaps more.

But as much as we hated this issue….let us share the words of another who captured it perfectly—From IGN’s Hillary Goldstein’s review of this issue:

Hil's Review: I am going to ruin Nightwing for you, because, really, no one should read this issue. Jason Todd, you know, the guy DC went to great lengths to bring back from the dead, turns into a giant octopus-slug and swallows a villain whole... and then regurgitates. They brought back Jason Todd to turn him into a second rate monster? Are you f@#$%ing kidding me?! I can't hold Bruce Jones responsible for one of the dumbest ideas of the past decade. Creative content is always filtered through approvals to prevent such garbage from ruining a comic. I blame Editor Nachie Castro and anyone else at DC who signed off on such an incredibly stupid f@#$%ing idea. This is now the worst monthly at DC Comics. Set this bitch on fire.

Thank you Hillary…we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Dishonorably Discharged—Supergirl, Green Arrow, Ion, Wonder Woman & Hawkgirl

While FanBoyWonder was “away” we had reason to review and consolidate the batch of books we’ve been subscribing to each month.

Since DC Comics has yet again seen fit to hike the average monthly price of a comic to $2.99 per issue (we still remember fondly the day when comic books were cover priced at 40 cents), there were a number of fair-to-middling books on our reading list that we decided that were no longer worth the investment.

Some were easy to drop but a couple we reluctantly let go as some economic choices had to be made.


We’ve made no bones about our unhappiness with this book and the title character since Jeph Loeb reintroduced Kara Zor-El back into the DC Universe in Superman/Batman.
When Loeb wrapped up his overhyped/underdelivered turn with this character, we had high hopes for Supergirl One Year Later since as far as we were concerned there was no were to go but up.

Oh boy were we mistaken. We noted our confusion and displeasure with the new direction of the book, despite the addition of Power Girl (Here’s our recap
but we were going to stick with it…at least until PG finished her guest stint…but on-again, off again writers and book’s perpetual lateness exhausted our patience.
Somewhere out there, Peter David and Linda Danvers are laughing.

Green Arrow

This book and specifically Judd Winick’s take on Green Arrow had been alternately annoying and boring us for some time now and frankly it’s just been inertia that’s kept us from dropping the book until now.

As we’ve noted in the past, Winick’s penchant for injecting his pet social issues at the expense of a good (or even serviceable) story and his lack of imagination, inability and/or unwillingness to retain the core personality of the characters he inherits (i.e. Connor Hawke) annoys us to no end.

Yet we didn’t mind when Mia, the young runaway Ollie Queen took in and who later became the new Speedy, turned out to be HIV Positive. As a 15-year-old prostitute who turned tricks to survive on the street, it was a natural consequence or the real dangers or runaway life and in that moment we saw a hint of Mike Grell-like greatness…but once Judd made his social statement…the issue and the plot thread just faded away.

Speaking of Grell, you want to read some great Green Arrow, pick up Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters and the first 75 issues of the previous Green Arrow series.


This mini-series was a HUGE disappointment and we hated it so much we stopped with at the second issue of this 12-issue limited series—something we NEVER do.

What was supposed to be a post-Infinite Crisis showcase for Kyle Ranyer, the one-time “modern age” Green Lantern, Ion seems poised to banish into Kyle into obscurity.

We were confused going into this series as we’re still not sure what the heck exactly happened in Infinite Crisis and the pages of the Rann/Thanagar War where Kyle was transformed into Ion.

Writer Ron Marz not only does nothing to explain or clarify what’s going on but he’s still writing the character like a rookie instead of the guy who was THE Green Lantern for nearly a decade. The art by Greg Tocchini only adds to the confusion—is layouts are fine but his style is a pure and simple mismatch for a Green Lantern book.


This was a tough choice for us drop this book. If economics weren’t a factor we would likely have stuck with this book longer. As we reported in April, FBW met Hawkgirl artist Howard Chaykin http://fanboywonder.blogspot.com/2006/04/pittsburgh-comiconhoward-chaykin.html where he explained what he was trying to do with character.

We think he’s on the right track but the book just hasn’t picked up far enough, fast enough yet to make it a must read. But of all of our cost cutting choices, this one was the toughest. Good luck Kendra.

Wonder Woman

Although we thought a relaunch of Wonder Woman was unnecessary, we had high hopes for this book—mainly due to the great work of previous Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka—but we were greatly disappointed.

We had looked forward to an exploration One Year Later of Diana’s post Infinite Crisis journey following her murder/justifiable homicide of Maxwell Lord and how she has dealt with the consequences of that act.

What we got was Donna Troy who we find has been wearing the armor of Wonder Woman for some time. Yet we only know it is the one-time Wonder Girl because the dialogue tells us so….Donna is drawn exactly like Diana in an inspired bit of artistic laziness…that is when they weren’t going overboard with all of the cheesecake shots.

The “all new and bold direction” of Wonder Woman boiled down to the old replacement hero trick. It’s a rotten thing to do to a much abused character like Donna Troy. She deserved better and so do the readers.

We didn’t even bother purchasing the first issue…why bother when the hero we are reading about we just KNOW will be taken out of the picture sooner or later. This is just the latest example of DC trying to fix what wasn’t broken and f**king it all up.
Merciful Minerva!!!!
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