Phil's Reviews — Stuff I Read and Put Back #16

Wonder Woman #8 — Writer: Jodi Picoult; Penciller: Terry Dodson; Inker: Rachel Dodson
Picoult’s writing ability probably comes out best in the Wonder Woman/Nemesis scenes, as they engage in a kind of awkward, half-kidding courtship in between fighting the bad guys. The unfortunate part’s the forced plot, as she’s compelled to use Circe to resurrect Mother Hippolyta, for no good reason other than to connect the book to the first issue of Amazons Attack, also out this week (This issue runs parallel to that one, and they end with the same scene. If this is going to go on for all six months of the mini-series, that’s an awfully long haul to expect from readers who just got done sitting through a six-issue intro story that somehow never made it past issue #5, isn’t it? ) Despite OK art, this is all too confusing and driven by outside interference to hang together as a reasonable story; that’s a shame, because I’d really like to see what this creative team could do on their own, with a little more experience working together and their own uncorrupted playing field.

Amazons Attack! #1 (of 6) — Writer: Will Pfeifer; Artist: Pete Woods
Speaking of corrupted…. I’ve liked Pfeifer’s writing ever since Hero, where he did better work with the Dial H For Hero concept than anyone could have expected. That had a bloody, gritty plot toward the end, with a serial killer using the dial, but that was OK because it was an obscure mini-series with shadowy, serious art that younger readers wouldn’t have looked twice at. Somehow, it seems wrong to use that grit here, in a spin-off from one of DC’s major superhero titles; the first scene in the book is a kid and his father getting attacked by the Amazons, who decapitate the father in front of the son, and then kill the kid, too. Is DC comfortable about kids younger than, say, 13 reading this — especially with no parental warning on the cover? The whole idea that we should spend six issues caring about Amazons, attacking or otherwise, seems kind of… optimistic, too; is there anyone out there, other than hardcore Wonder Woman fans, who could possibly want to buy this book?

Catwoman # 66 — Writer: Will Pfeifer; Penciller: David Lopez; Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Speaking of decapitation…. another book with no parental warning on the cover, although it’s a mainstream superhero comic, of a character that kids might be interested in, and yet inside there’s an EC-worthy full-page splash of a severed head, blood draining from the jagged stump, of a character the readers have gotten to know and feel sympathetic toward. The story itself moves along nicely, and it’s fun to see the rookie Holly figuring out how to be a hero. On the other hand, it’s got an idiot plot — the villain’s only power is gloves that shoot energy, so naturally when she’s defeated no one thinks to take them off. Why? Because they’re idiots. I’m not blaming Pfeifer for any of this — he’s just doing his job as a writer — but between the plot holes and the inappropriate content, where was the editor of this book?

Blue Beetle #14 — Writer: John Rogers; Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
I really should start moving this to the “buy” column; it’s been good for a while now, and this issue accomplishes the impressive feat of making Guy Gardner a rounded character instead of just Clueless Jerk Guy (he’s still a jerk, but at least here he’s a rounded jerk…). The idea that Guy always respected Ted Kord as being really smart and competent seems a little retconny, but the payoff — that he inspires Jaime to start studying strategy and tactics — is a very nice touch. The one thing keeping me from getting this title right now is that it might be too late — Marc-Oliver Frisch’s sales charts over at The Beat have it selling fewer than 18,000 copies an issue, so it may already be on the cancellation list.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #2 — Writer: Jeph Loeb; Pencils: Ed McGuiness; Inks: Dexter Vines
Marvel’s entry in the weekly why-does-this-book-exist? sweepstakes. Half of the book is the Mighty Avengers battling Tiger Shark. That’s a generic fight plot, and it has no connection to the other half, which is the New Avengers sitting around Dr. Strange’s sanctum playing poker with the Thing and listening to Spider-Man whine about how sad it is that Cap’s dead, and getting in Wolverine’s face when he shows up and says, yep, he sure smelled dead to me. Unconnected plots, and out-of-focus characterization… gee, it must be a Jeph Loeb Marvel book, huh?

Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #6 (of 6) — Script: Chuck Dixon; Art: Derec Donovan
It’s the standard Dixon plot: competent-but-forgettable characters running around and resolving problems by punching and shooting one another. If I’m reading it right, though, it may also be the rare mini-series with a significant effect on the hero: Hawke ends up with superpowers after bathing in dragon’s blood (immortal, strong, fast), although who knows whether DC will choose to pay any attention to them. With Green Arrow now cancelled, maybe they were grooming Connor for his own book, although if that’s true then sales of this one couldn’t have been very encouraging — the charts at The Beat have it selling only 13,500 copies per issue, hardly enough of a fan base for an ongoing title.

Silent War #4 (of 6) — Writer: David Hine; Artist: Frazer Irving
Continuing its apparent mission of taking a noble, mysterious race and turning them into a bunch of whiny, depressed idiots (although, to be fair, Hine isn’t the only one who’s had the characters follow this path over the last few years). The art doesn’t help — everything’s too cartoony, and the coloring hurts my eyes, and after too many shots of Sad Black Bolt and Sad Medusa it’s very hard to care.

Phil Mateer

About Phil

With 40 years of experience in comic reading, collecting and reviewing, English Professor Phil Mateer has an encyclopedic mind for comics. Feel free to ask Phil about storylines, characters, artists or for that matter, any comic book trivia. He will post your questions and answers on the AABC blog. His knowledge is unparalleled! He is also our warehouse manager, so if you are looking for that hard to find comic book, ask Phil!
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