The Writing Writer: Eclipso

Eclipso #1 was bad.  It does everything a comic shouldn’t: expository dialogue, stating the obvious, events happening without context.  The worst was that it tells a back story without telling a back story.  Instead we get some lines of dialogue telling us stuffed happened and a lot of references to previous issues.  The art was exceptional and that is the only reason anyone should have if they buy this book.  The story is dumb and the dialogue is atrocious but the art is some of the best I’ve seen out of Villains Month.  Wish I had more to say but that’s pretty much it.  Don’t get it unless you want to ignore every word in it.

Final Verdict: It sucks.

The Writing Writer: Lex Luthor #1

I’m not that big of a fan of Lex Luthor.  I’ve heard enough fanboy ramblings from Ravingnerd to make be absolutely sick of the character.  So, I wasn’t too excited about Lex Luthor #1 but I figured I should get it since Luthor is a major player in the new 52 world order.  I was saddened when upon reading I saw it was a prequel to the events of Forever Evil.  Upon further reading I was less disappointed because this Luthor was not one I was expecting.

Luthor has been maniacal, calculating, cruel, sociopathic, and the man whose already won.  52 Luthor is all those things at once.  This is one of the few times where Luthor’s power is flexed to the fullest of its capabilities and his threats aren’t idle.  Sure he’s always been powerful and his threats have always carried weight, but rarely do we ever get to see him follow through just to make an example out of someone.  This Luthor is a badass and I like it.

There were some big problems with the comic though.  The biggest is that it completely undercuts the through lines to the events of Forever Evil.  I find it hard to believe that the Luthor in Lex Luthor #1 is the same as the Luthor in Forever Evil because of his final words.

“This is a job for Superman. So where the hell is he?”

The plot of Lex Luthor #1 surrounds Luthor pulling a stunt to discredit Superman as a savior.  Needless to say he succeeds and so I find it hard to believe that the man who just got the world to reconsider their views on the all powerful Superman would ever admit that there was a job for Superman let alone wonder what’s happened to him.  My second problem point is personal, but it still bugs me.  Lex is shown to outsource the choosing of some of his staff, namely his assistant.  I find it hard to believe that a man with that much power and control would outsource that decision to anyone.  But that’s just me.

Final Verdick: BAMF

The Writing Writer: Arcane #1

Arcane #1 was creepy.  You’d think that a guy with the power of the Rot would be gross, menacing, and perhaps even scary but Anton Arcane is incredibly creepy which is why I loved this book.  I’m not sure why I like creepy stuff, but I do and man does this book deliver.  There are lots of great examples that show off the truly disturbing feel to the book. I think it all comes down to the fact that the book makes a distinction between rot and death.  We see Anton Arcane, throughout the years, experimenting with rot, controlling it, worshiping it, and trying to achieve it in the absence of the finality of death.  He is truly evil and at the same time completely engrossing.

The book is also a back story two-for-one deal.  Both Anton and the current bearer of the Rot, Abigail Arcane get their stories fleshed out in this issue.  Anton’s story is far more interesting than Abigail’s, but they both stories play into each other seamlessly.  There are only two complaints I have against this book.  One is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the overall Villains Month plot.  This is literally just another Swamp Thing issue and its set entirely in Anton’s prison so we don’t even get to see what’s going on in the world currently.  Second, this book is just one big excuse to get Anton out of prison.   To make it even more frustrating, he escapes via a trope I absolutely hate: protagonist goes to antagonist to get information, protagonist lets his/her guard down, antagonist escapes.   In short, the bad guy gets away because the hero does something stupid.  It’s everywhere but it never gets any less frustrating.

Final Verdict:  Rotten to the Core

The Writing Writer: Black Hand #1

Since Marvel has zombies I guess DC needs them too?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the darkest night event but let’s call a spade a spade shall we.  Black Hand is a space zombie generator and that’s he does in Black Hand #1.  There’s even a line where a police chief reminds his fellow cops of their anti-zombie training.  It’s funny, but I don’t think Black Hand #1 is supposed to be funny.

Like Dial E, Black Hand is a little all over the place except this time it’s tone.  The book starts off pretty creepy.  There are people talking about cremating Arkham inmates; Black had reassembles himself out of the ashes of violent sociopaths and of course, space zombies.  However, there’s a lot odd jokes sprinkled throughout, some dark and some just odd, like police zombie training.  Also, the justification for reviewing Black Hand’s life is that he’s got amnesia which is also portrayed inconsistently.  Sometime it’s like he’s forgotten how to work his thumbs and the next page he’s turning cops into zombies via flu shot.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.  While that is pretty damn cool, I don’t think it’s something an amnesiac could come up with.  Sure he gets his memories by the end of the book but the leap from remembering to walk to mastery over death is jarring.

While Black Had #1 starts and stops, it ends really well and is worth the read, especially because Black Had will be showing up later down the road.

Final Verdict: Braiiiins….

The Writing Writer: Dial E #1

So I didn’t know what to expect from Dial E.  I haven’t kept up with the new 52 Dial H and my only other introduction to the series was some back issues of the books first run way back when.  While the premise was interesting (using heroes sent in by kids) the book itself wasn’t all that great.  The only thing I had to expect from this book was high quality art from a variety of artists.  Man did it deliver on that front.  Every page has a new villain which the art reflects incredibly well.  The story, however, doesn’t.  While it’s not an overall bad story, due to the nature of the beast (I.E. having so many different people on the book) it feels disjointed.  The flow from page to page is sometimes jarring and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and so the dialogue has to work double time to try and keep things together.

For the most part it works, I knew who was turning the dial and when.  The problem is that the story itself isn’t all that interesting.  A bunch of kids running around with a dial that turns them into supervillains sounds like it could be interesting.  However, most of the book is the group running from the police after their initial bank robbery or whatever it was that they did.  As I said, visually it’s scattered so all I know is there were sacks of something that later disappeared because…reasons?  It might also have helped if there was some time taken to develop the group of kids.  This feels like DC meets the Boxcar Kids, except some people care about the Boxcar Kids.

Dial E is a gimmick, much like 3D covers and this entire month of DC comics.  It’s a cool gimmick regardless of the poor story and I’d love to see something like it again except with better planning and communication between the creative team.

Final Verdict: Dial E for Ehhh

The Writing Writer: Shadow Thief#1

If anyone has listened to our podcast you’ll know how much I love the Wildstorm universe.  Gen 13 and Stormwatch got me into comics and they still hold a special place in my heart.  So you’ll understand that I was a little upset when it was absorbed into the main DC universe.   DC tends to shove their appropriated characters into the darkest corners it can find.  I was glad that the new 52 started off with some big players from Wildstorm.  But their books were short lived and now they’re pretty much gone.

Shadow Thief #1, while not the greatest book this time round, did reference a big part of the Wilstorm universe that’s apparently still kicking in the DCU, so I really appreciated that.  As a whole, the book actually wasn’t that bad.  This new Shadow Thief is interesting, looks awesome, and skirts the line between villain and anti-hero which I thought was really cool.  While there are points in the book where it’s clear she is a villain, for them most part she feels like a Punisher or Red Hood like character.  She’s got a pro-social mission that usually involves killing lots of people.  I’m excited to see the future has in store for the Shadow Thief and I hope it involves more from Wildstorm because seriously, if you’re not going to put it anywhere why did you absorb it!!!

Final Verdict: Daemonites!

The Writing Writer: Black Manta #1

Out of all the villain books I read this week, Black Manta was by far my favorite.  Not because it was the best written or best drawn (the book does just fine on both those fronts regardless) nor is it because it made me see an old character in a different way or did something radically different.  It’s my favorite because it’s a new story.

For the past two weeks I’ve been bombarded with back stories, origins, and any combination in-between.  I’ve been accosted by exposition and captions and hamfisted dialogue that are trying to explain something but end up confusing me.  What I really wanted from Villains Month was new stories.   I wanted to see Brainiac culling new worlds.  I wanted to see Darkseid planning his next attack or dealing with the as yet introduced New Gods.  I wanted to see a character truly take over a book and not spend 20 something pages talking about why there in there in the first place.  Thankfully Black Manta delivers, though not as well as I’d hoped.

I was really curious about this book because of his brief cameos in Forever Evil.  I had no idea where his character would do in this new world as Amanda Waller puts it, “What happens when you do kill Aquaman?” Apparently the answer is get just to redirect that anger onto the Justice Society for (just like Aquaman) accidentally messing with his father.  So new happens other than swapping focus for his misguided anger.  There was a lot more than could have done with this character and I was disappointed that they decided to keep him as a one trick pony.

Seriously, this guy has issues.  Made for a fun read but he really needs to get over himself.

Final Verdict: Whatever happened to forgive and forget?

The Writing Writer: Court of Owls #1

Court of Owls # 1 was great.  It was dark.  It was scary.  It gave a comprehensive history of the Court so that anyone could pick up the book and know who they were and what they did.  It gave us a better sense of Gotham than Ventriloquist #1 even though Ventriloquist is shows much more of city.  It also showed the current state of the Court.  It showed, quite cleverly, the current in fighting and paradigm splits within the organization without any heavy handed exposition or cheesy tropes.  But gosh darn it if it didn’t end on a mudder lubbin cliff hanger!

While I don’t mind cliff hangers in general, when they’re present in what’s supposed to be a one-shot I get a little peeved.  While I doubt anyone will be left hanging for very long (the Court is at the core of at least one Batman book) I still find it in bad form to introduce something more at the end of what’s supposed to be a complete story.  It’s like putting a question mark that the end of “The End” of a movie.  It’s just infuriating! So yeah, buy it, read it, and be prepared to be left wanting more.

Final Verdict: Who? Who, indeed.

The Writing Writer: Brainiac #1

I’ve never been one for Brainiac.   He’s one of those “all powerful, all knowing” super-villains that exists just to be shown that they’re not all powerful and all knowing, usually after some well placed fists and one liners.  I’ve also had a hard time finding him villainous.  Granted, he blows up planets and kills billions, but that’s an unfortunate side effect of what Brainiac is truly after, knowledge.  Every modern interpretation of the character has had an obsession to learn everything which isn’t inherently bad.  The desire to learn is an actually quite an honorable thing to have.  Brainiac’s desire just happens to lead him to decimate whole planets.  At best I see him as a tragic villain, one who should be beaten, but leaves everyone feeling a bit guilty when it’s all over.

Brainiac #1 plays with this a little bit by showing his origin to be a misguided attempt to save his own civilization from the Multitude.  I thought it was a race but turns out it’s just a plot device that destroys stuff for no real reason.  Still, his “I do this for the good of all” motivation helped to round out his character which made him that much more interesting.  Yet this was literally all thrown away with the last line of the comic so I was left rather disappointed.

I was honestly torn when I read this.  I knew he was bad and I knew he would destroy everything if left alone but he didn’t start out destroying the planets he tried to save.   And even then, the planet he destroyed would have been destroyed anyway.  His actions were wrong yes, but from a pragmatic point of view it makes sense.  Some could see it as a bit of mercy even.  Yet all of that was just tossed aside in favor for turning him into a green Luthor.  Sad times.

Final Verdict: I just want some pants! A decent pair of pants!

The Writing Writer: Lobo #1

So I actually like the old, dreadlock sporting, kiss makeup wearing, muscle-headed ass that is Lobo.  He was this great parody of the Rob Liefeld-esque hero that saturated comics in the 90’s.  He was stupid, yes, but he was funny and sometimes you just need to shake things up with a bit of the village idiot.  So I wasn’t that enthused when DC announced that they weren’t just giving Lobo a new design, they were saying that the Lobo we know isn’t Lobo at all.  Instead, we get generic anti-hero man.  I mean, Image rip-off man.  I mean…the real Lobo? 

I have no problems with Lobo #1 as a book.  It’s well written and the art is even better.  I could have used a little less thought captions (those buggers were everywhere!)  but they weren’t bad enough to take me out of the story.  My problem is that the one thing that made Lobo unique out of the entire DC universe is now gone and instead we’re left with sexy times with space murder bastard man.  Seriously, there are enough sexy sociopaths in everything now a days, let alone comics.  Lobo wasn’t the best character in the world but at least he brought his own je ne sais Lobo.  This new guy makes me think I’m reading something out of the Topcow rejection bin.  He’s not “bad” in the sense that he’s not interesting but it’s an interesting that I’ve seen before in every Image/Wildstorm/Aspen book ever.    

Final Verdict: I’m going to miss that stupid bastich.