Some Comics Should Have Subtitles
A few weeks back, I weighed in on the beginning of DC's Brightest Day miniseries and gave a very colorful opinion of what it should have been subtitled. Today, I extend that sometimes-dubious honor upon some recent comics:
Title: War Of The Supermen 1-4
What it should have been subtitled: "And I Bought The Last Two Years Of Superman Titles Why, Exactly?"
Review: This is the storyline that had been been building in the Superman books since Supes rescued Kandor from the clutches of Brainiac 2 years ago, and many of the Superbooks during this time, particularly SUPERGIRL and SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON, have actually been enjoyable. However, the conclusion of this story arc is a classic case of "big overture, little show".
It was also a classic case of the failure of imagination that's been a huge problem at DC of late. It seems like death is the only method DC's writers and editors can use to advance or resolve a storyline lately. "War Of The Supermen" showcased this in spades: many of the main protagonists were dead by the story's end.
New Krypton, which could have spawned decades of great Superman storylines? Dead.
Red Shard, Kal-El's unit during the New Krypton mini? Dead.
General Lane, who could have been a worthy addition to Supes' rogues' gallery and provided some great interaction with Lois? Dead.
Reactron, who was the closest thing Supergirl had to an archenemy? Dead.
Flamebird aka Supergirl's childhood friend Thara Ak-Var? You guessed it. Dead.
And what about Supergirl's mom Alura, who started out one-dimensional but evolved into a complex character? Want to see any further exploration of her and Kara's relationship? Well, you can forget about that, because she's dead, too.
See a pattern here?
I remember a recent column at the end of the DC books by Superman editor Mat Idelson in which he wrote something to the effect of "Weren't you shocked that New Krypton blew up at the end of Issue 1?"
Shocked, Matt? Well, as shocked as anyone would be seeing a one-trick pony perform its one trick for the umpteenth time.
As for the rest, Zod, Mon-El, and Chris Kent are back in the Phantom Zone, just as they were 2 years ago. In effect, the conclusion to War Of The Supermen essentially reset the Superman universe back to the pre-"Brainiac Saga" status quo. Well, with one exception: Pa Kent is still dead.
Which raises the question: What was the point of that whole storyline in the first place?
I will say one thing: It does lend Snell's theory a lot more credence.
Title: Justice League: The Fall And Rise Of Arsenal
What it should have been subtitled: "DC Spotlights Roy Harper And Sucks All The Redeeming Qualities Out Of Him".
Review: I will admit I enjoyed this scene below.....
...and that was about it. The rest of the book was pure excrement.
I've been following Roy since he was a member of the Teen Titans, and I understand how the O'Neil-Adams storyline was the thing that really put him on the map years ago. But the great thing about him was how he'd progressed since then. He also was unique in comics because he was a single dad. Now that's gone, and not even for a particularly good story. And for what purpose? To make Roy yet another dark, brooding, morose loner? Because we've never seen that before.
DC also kicks off the second leg of their Fuck You Kendra Saunders Fans Tour with this issue. How do you think Kendra is remembered here? That she was a great hero or a wonderful person?
That she was Roy Harper's greatest lay!
("Gosh willikers, why don't more women read our comics?" "Gee whiz, I don't know!")
What kills me about this move by DC is that Roy was kind of an inspirational character before. Former druggie kicking his habit and going on to take on the role of a single father while being a super-hero? How unique is that, huh? When Roy first lost his arm only, I thought that they were going to retool him as DC's answer to Winter Soldier. Watching Roy overcome his disability while being a hero and a dad still could have inspired readers. The only thing Fall and Rise Of Arsenal will inspire people to do is quit reading comics.
What it should have been subtitled: "Warning: Entrails!"
Review: I started reading this book when I realized that I was limiting myself too much to just the Big Two lately, and I'm glad I did. While the conclusion of this part of the "Viltrumite War" was a little graphic for my tastes, I'm still enjoying this book overall. And it's redeemed because it was a telling display of the titular character's heroism as he takes "never give up" to a whole new level.
Title: Red Robin#13
What it should be subtitled: "Buy this. Just do it. You won't be sorry."
Review: If I'm going to slam DC when they get it wrong, it's only fair to praise them when they get it right. And Red Robin is one of those times. One of the frustrating things about high-profile lapses like Cry For Justice and the Arsenal mini is that they cause people to tar all of DC's lineup with the same brush, or at least most of it ("if it's not Morrison or Simone it's CRAP!"), and it's not fair to gems like Red Robin.