Countdown to Final Crisis #22 — Writers: Paul Dini with Tony Bedard; Story Consultant: Keith Giffen; Pencils: Carlos Magno; Inks: Rodney Ramos
We start with a panel looking up Mary Marvel’s butt, and end with a full-page splash of the Trickster with a bullet through his forehead (in between? Jimmy Olsen on Apokolips), and that really tells you all you need to know about this sad, exploitive indication of how badly DC has lost its way. Want more evidence? Read on….
Green Lantern Corps #18 — Writer: Peter J. Tomasi; Pencillers: Patrick Gleason and Jamal Igle; Inkers: Prentis Rollins and Jerry Ordway
Bad DC editing, part one: see, this is where bad scheduling gets you. This is the penultimate issue of the Sinestro Corps story, and it’s a big fight between the new Ion (a GL from Daxam) and Superboy-er-Man Prime. Yeah, but we’ve already seen who wins, because he’s been murdering his way through the last couple of issues of Countdown, so the suspense level is low. Since the entire issue is the fight (interspersed with boring origin stuff about the Daxamite GL), and the art is standard stuff, it’s a pointless exercise, a stall until the “real” conclusion over in GL next week.
JSA Classified #32 — Writer: Junior Thomas; Penciller: Staz Johnson; Inkers: Rodney Ramos & Jack Purcell
Bad DC editing, part two: there’s a pivotal scene near the end where a woman runs up to GL saying that her “daughter” has been hurt, and they stand around for two pages talking about “her” — but the artist has clearly drawn the kid as a boy (and not very well, either — his size relative to the mother keeps changing). Thus, the mother’s plaintive “Does my daughter look fine to you?” dialogue is rendered unintentionally hilarious, and when, a page later, the big “mystery” villain is revealed to be… the same damn villain they always use with the Golden-age Gl — the whole book collapses in a heap of stupidity.
Superman/Batman #43 — Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning; Pencils: Mike McKone; Inks: Andy Lanning, Jonathan Glapion & Rebecca Duchman
Bad DC editing, part three: The first ten pages of the story try to keep the reader off-balance, and build to the big reveal of this issue’s mystery villain — who’s prominently pictured and named on the cover of the book. Way to render the first half of the comic meaningless and screw with your writers, guys.
Lord Havok and the Extremists #2 (of 8) — Writer: Frank Tieri; Penciller: Liam Sharp; Inker: Rob Hunter
Bad DC editing, part four: The cover (again with the cover…) is a big splash of the Jason Todd/Donna Troy/Ion/Monitor “Challengers from Beyond” — who never actually appear in the book. Oh, there’s a half-page shot of Troy punching someone, a half-page of Todd being punched, and a half-page of Todd gritting his teeth and looking menacing, but that’s it. The rest looks like a bad ’90s Image comic, with close-ups of badly-drawn Leifeldian faces and splashes of ugly monster guys whom we don’t know about, don’t care about, and have no incentive to want to spend $3 on. Simultaneously dumb, dishonest and dismissible, it’s the laughable lowpoint to what might be the worst week of comics DC has ever produced.
Hack/Slash #6 — Writer: Tim Seeley; Art: Fernando Pinto, Stefano Caselli/Tim Seeley & Splash!
If you’re gonna be exploitive, do it with some style. This book does, as its serial-killer-hunting duo track a murderous priest to a small town where everyone acts (and is drawn) as though they were in an Archie comic. It’s a clever conceit, and you can tell the creative team’s having fun with it; the idea of a slasher movie set in Riverdale is just transgressive enough to juice the story along, even though it’s otherwise standard fare.
Moon Knight Annual #1 — Writer: Duane Swierczynski; Artist: Jefte Palo
Points for trying a different story structure — seven women sit in a therapy group, and the story of the rapist that three of them have in common, and Moon Knight’s involvement in catching him, is told in bits and pieces through their flashbacks — but it doesn’t play to the artist’s strengths (he’s OK at the silent, full-page action splashes, but doesn’t have the chops to draw interesting faces in close-up, which is what most of the book requires). It’s padded, too, and would have been a lot better as a regular 22-page issue than an annual (not to mention a dollar cheaper).
Faker #5 — Writer: Mike Carey; Artist: Jock
A typical Vertigo book — the group of flawed young outsiders against the evil corporate/government scientists, the sf element, the surreal questions about identity, the dollop of sex, the “modern” art style that’s stronger on the design than the anatomy. Carey’s more than competent at writing this sort of thing, and the main character has intriguing aspects, but her backstory, revealed in this issue, is such a cliche that it’s hard to take the rest of it seriously.