Villain Month: Week 4 (DC) – Quick Reviews

KIllerCroc Parasite1

The last week of Villains month is over and we got the final 12 of the 52 comics focusing on the bad guys in the DCU.  These have been a mixed bag for me.  I know a lot of this is personal opinion, but I feel DC could have put a much better foot forward with these issues.  I have to believe I’m not the only one who was buying DC comics I don’t normally buy because of the really cool 3D covers.  I added a few comics to my pull list because of this, but I could have added a LOT more.  In general, for me, about 1/3rd of the books were really good.  Really good if you’re looking at it as a baseball batting average, not so good if you look at it as storytelling quality from a major publisher.

I have to give a shout out to Comics Toons’n’Toys in Tustin, CA.  They were heavily allocated on the Joker’s Daughter issue and I didn’t get a copy on Weds (which is OK, I know how that goes).  When a person higher up the allocation chain than me decided they were going to pass on the issue, they offered it to me at cover price because they knew I wanted a copy instead of going & selling it on eBay.  This is how a great comic shop behaves towards their customers.

Nothing hit me as a 5/5 this week, though I had 2 (Killer Croc & Parasite) that made 4.5’s this week.  Here is the full run-down  for week 4:

Bane #1 (aka Batman #23.4): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 2/5
Unimpressive.  I liked Bane a lot in the Pre-New52 Suicide Squad series.  Here he’s reduced to a one-note psycho, threatening people left & right for the most minor incursions.  This is a preamble to the “Arkham War” mini-series, nothing about this issue makes me want to read that.

Black Adam #1 (aka Justice League of America #7.4): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 4/5
I like Black Adam with his “protector of Khandaq” personality aspect that was established back in the pre-New 52 “52” series.  I’m very happy this was not washed away/rebooted.  It will be interesting to see the role Black Adam plays against the Secret Society as Forever Evil progresses.

Doomsday #1 (aka Batman/Superman #3.1): 3D cover: 4.5/5     Story: 1.5/5
Doomsday is reduced to an incidental flashback character from Krypton’s past in his own special issue, I was unimpressed.  For a good Doomsday story seek out Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey by Dan Jurgens from 1994.  Since it’s pre-New52 and not on people’s radar you can get the issues for around a buck a piece.  I continue to be unimpressed by the new kryptonian backstory being developed in the New52, really not my cup of tea.  The cover was really cool, though.

First Born #1 (aka Wonder Woman #23.2): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 3.5/5
The lack of origininality in the Tarzan/Kipling’s Jungle Book riff on the origin for the First Born knocks the story down a bit in my eyes, but this is a must read for fans of Azzarello’s current run non Wonder Woman.

Joker’s Daughter #1 (aka Batman: The Dark Knight #23.4): 3D cover: 5/5     Story: 2/5
I really cannot see this character becoming popular unless we get some substantially improved storytelling.  I really got no feeling for anything that gave Duela the impetus for her actions other than “she was born that way” (not particularly impressive as far as character motivation goes).  The random happenstance of finding the Joker face floating in the water (not to mention how it must be rotting) was both sickening & a stretch of my suspension of disbelief.  Also, is it just me, or on the page opposite the “Damian Son of Batman” ad, does Jeanty drawing of Duela’s parents make them in size & proportion look like they are 12 years old?

Killer Croc #1 (aka Batman & Robin #23.4): 3D cover: 5/5     Story: 4.5/5
Great origin stoy for Killer Croc show his childhood, him as a young man, and in current continuity with a very interesting twist at the end showing his status as a character with a Gotham powerbase and contender as a much more significant villain than he’s been portrayed as in the past.  Bravo to Tim Seeley for dreaming up this expansion of a classic Batman badguy.

Man-Bat #1 (aka Detective Comics #23.4): 3D cover: 4.5/5     Story: 3/5
Great cover but no significant insights into the character.  This story follows out of recent issues of Detective and will be continued in upcoming issues.  As a standalone issue it felt mostly like a placeholder.

Metallo #1 (aka Action Comics #23.4): 3D cover: 4/5     Story: 4/5
I’m starting to sense a personal pattern in the books about Superman villains.  I really dislike the ones that are strongly tied to Krypton while i enjoy the ones about earth-born badguys.  Here we get a great story about the cyborg soldier under the command of General Sam Lane, Metal-Zero aka Metallo.  Good origin story mixed with bringing us up to date on where he can be possibly popping up in current continuity.

Ocean Master #1 (aka Aquaman #23.2): 3D cover: 4.5/5     Story: 3/5
An OK story which seemed to be more of a direct follow-on/lead-in to current Aquaman comics (I dropped Aquaman a while back) than any kind of origin.  Orm talks about Atlantis in this issue but I’d have liked to have seen more of what it was like for him growing up and establishing his power base in Atlantis than just hearing about it.   This is all personal preference, not a bad story by Geoff Johns/Tony Bedard.  Seems to mostly exist to show us throughout the issue that Orm is NOT a nice guy, or at least that his mind does not work the way a human’s does.  But then that attitude being built up over this issue is switched up on the last page and they leave us hanging with a bit of doubt on that front.  Not a big fan of them leaving the reader hanging on a specific story point that is not particularly critical to the DCU so really does not need to ever be followed up on elsewhere.  Maybe it will be followed up in Aquaman, I won’t know, as this was not compelling enough to get me to re-add Aquaman to my pull list.

Parasite #1 (aka Superman #23.4): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 4.5/5
Another example of me liking Earth-based Superman villains, this was one of my favorite comics from the entire week.  Aaron Kuder did a great job on story & art, I like the look of the New52 Parasite and the story was a great mix of origin and following the character’s current story arc.  This left off on a story beat with Parasite approaching Metropolis that makes me want to pick up the next Superman comic where I see this character featured so I can see what’s going to happen when he goes up against Superman.  He’s going to lose (it’s a comic book, right?) but I’d like to see how the encounter goes anyway.  This is important because it’s the formula in many super-hero comics:  Badguy faces off against hero and poses a threat, badguy gains upper hand, super-hero rallies and wins out in the end.  It’s making the variations in this basic structure interesting enough to make us want to come back to read the same basic story structure again & again that makes superhero comics popular.

Secret Society #1 (aka Justice League #23.4): 3D cover: 3/5     Story: 4/5
This was really kind of a “Forever Evil #1.1” issue that tells a mostly flashback story from the Crime Syndicate’s earth, focusing on Owlman/The Outsider and that world’s Gotham.  We end up reminded that Nightwing is in a pickle and we’d better pick up Forever Evil #2 if we want to see the story continue.  This comic felt like an addendum to the Forever Evil series, not essential reading, but cool information if you want background on the world the Crime Syndicate (Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman) comes from.

Sinestro #1 (aka Green Lantern #23.4): 3D cover: 5/5     Story: 4/5
I really liked this issue, and nicely written by Matt Kindt, particularly the narration by Lyssa Drak, but this mostly rehashed Sinestro history that I was already aware of.  That said, it was a nice primer on the character for new readers.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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