Johanna's DC Comments: Action, Bloodhound, Teen Titans, more

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Johanna's DC Comments: Action, Bloodhound, Teen Titans, more Johanna Draper Carlson 9/19/04 8:47 PM
Wow. Bloodhound #3 keeps building the tension. The bad guy turns out to
have similar powers to the lead of Ex Machina, and he's getting closer
and closer to the victim. (I know, that's a spoiler, but y'all aren't
reading this book anyway. Hopefully that will make you want to.)
Developments happen at a pace rapid enough to keep the reader
interested, but not in a lumpy exposition-dropping way. I love seeing
Clevenger fight to do the right thing in the face of bureaucratic pricks
and governmental rules that get in the way of justice. He often
outsmarts his opponents with brains instead of sheer brawn, even if his
clever tricks are quite violent. This is a very modern action fantasy,
one that takes into account the world we live in instead of the world as
it was 30-50 years ago.

In Green Arrow #42, Judd Winick gives the hero an interesting
philosophy, when he says he'd rather have the teen ex-hooker under his
care scared (so she'll do what he says) than in control of her own life.
Having adult superheroes get all self-righteous about protecting the kid
sidekicks just doesn't read right to anyone who remembers the stories
from when the heroes were younger and doing outrageously stupid things.
That's what made the stories fun. Trying to make the idea of the
sidekick more realistic will never work, because it just rips holes in
the already patchy fabric of the DCU.

Having Outsiders #15 colored directly over Tom Raney's pencils is a
distinctive look, but it's also making everyone look vaguely zombie-like
or haunted. That's fine when it comes to the bad guys, who are about to
obliterate Vancouver with a nuclear missile, but the heroes shouldn't
look so ragged, like they've spent too much time partying. The shape of
their faces shouldn't change drastically from panel to panel, either,
but that's a different problem.

I realized, about halfway through, that the conflict for the heroes had
become the equivalent of "my cell phone's jammed". They know about the
missiles, but they can't get a call through to any other heroes for
backup. This was boring. Even more boring was the way Indigo solves the
problem temporarily by touching a few walls. Where's the excitement? The
sense of urgency? Can no one write a snappy superhero fight any more?

I blame the muted art, sucking all the life out of the story. It all
blended murkily together.

Teen Titans #15, on the other hand, nicely suited what I was looking
for. Professional art by Tom Grummett (as always); coloring by Jeromy
Cox that supported the story, not flattened it; and an exciting story
where things kept happening.

The big green and purple dinosaurs fighting was the kind of
larger-than-life action superhero comics are for. Even better was Gar's
sacrifice, putting others ahead of himself (even if he got something out
of it as well). Geoff Johns does a good job checking in with the main
and backup plotlines without letting the story drag, and the teammates'
interactions seem meaningful.

I'm already looking forward to the upcoming Teen Titans/Legion
crossover, and this was a great appetizer to whet my appetite.

I wish there was a way to ban Chuck Austen from writing female
characters. (I wish there was a way to ban him from writing comics, but
one step at a time.) In Action Comics #819, Superman is hurt and Lois is
missing, so Lana takes the opportunity to hit on Clark and talk down
Lois while wearing short cutoffs and a tight belly shirt. (The artist
apparently doesn't know what a laundry basket looks like, either,
drawing something that looks like a serving platter full of clothes.)

The new villains, Sodom and Gomorrah, are a couple who have the ability
to turn people to salt when they're touching. It's a demented twist on
the Wonder Twins with just enough religious allusion to make it creepy.

Playing into the stereotype of the catty woman, Lana casts Lois' absence
as Lois' lack of character, her inability to be there when her husband
needs her. This is typical of Austen's work, introducing exaggerated
soap opera whether or not it fits the characters. Of course most women
who knew him would be in love with Superman, but Lana's behavior doesn't
read as love. It reads as jealousy, as the desire to possess and to
destroy what's in her way. It's not love, because it's all about her.

Attacking Lois because she doesn't give up her work to be at Superman's
side whenever he needs her demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding
of the basics of the character and what makes a mature relationship.

Johanna Draper Carlson            
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