Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Cover date: July 16, 2008
Lead Story: "A Third Symbol Now..."
Lead Story Writer: Kurt Busiek
Lead Story Penciller: Mark Bagley
Lead Story Inker: Art Thibert
Back-Up Story: "Away from Creation"
Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Art: Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
The league can't figure out the wolf people and Wonder Woman's burn scar has changed again. Hawkman and Gangbuster arrive and talk about Tarot, Gotham villains have been stealing symbols of tarot suits from museums all over the world, and suddenly everyone figures out that everything is all connected and it's... big.
Meanwhile, Despero is on the planet he's conquered, has found something, doesn't know what it is, and Morgaine and Enigma arrive to talk to him about becoming a "lord of creation".
Green Lantern John Stewart is testing himself to see what's going on with his powers. Firestorm arrives and we get a recap of who Krona is. During the recap things go nutty and John spouts spikes from his back, which quickly disappear. He and Firestorm leave, and the devices monitoring the cosmic egg that Krona is imprisoned in appear to be broken.
Lead Story - 2: Hey hey, folks, Jeffrey filling in for Barry here this week. We're swapping weeks, so Barry will be doing the main review next week for issue 8, and then I'll be back with the main review for issue 11, as I understand it. Now on to the issue at hand.
No no, I'm afraid we must.
I don't want to either, I assure you, but we have things to discuss. There there, it'll all be ok. Read some "52" after this to cleanse your brain.
The only reason this isn't a 1 is because I'm not sickened like I was by a certain unnamed former issue. If this comic ISN'T bastardizing my three favorite comic characters of all time, that's a point in its favor. How sad is it that the grading scale has come to that?
Nothing much really happens here. Again. Diana's burn has changed again, but we only find out after the fact and through expository dialogue. Hawkman shows up and tells them about a museum robbery, which leads to them looking at all the museum robberies and the items of acquisition being representative of tarot card suits... which through Diana's three burns they discover some tenuous thread connecting these robberies to their dreams and... oh come on, who actually cares?
There's zero drama, zero tension, zero conflict. On top of that we get the etheric scanner.
THE ETHERIC SCANNER?
The entire thing it is the most laughable kind of pseudo-science, and it's design is NOT HELPING THINGS. Fine, give Superman some pseudo-scientific device to scan for the tiny solar system, but to make it look like THAT?
What is this, the silver age on LSD? How can anyone take a comic seriously when it has THAT THING within its pages? Am I watching a Super Friends rerun? What the hell is that?! The most ridiculous "device" I may have ever seen in a comic book, that's what.
This is worthy of the big three HOW?
And while I'm ranting, these story titles... could we get even a HINT of originality there?
Then again this IS the book that featured the "Mandib" giant robots with mandibles, so... methinks I am apparently asking too much.
Lead Art - 3: I've said all I've got to say. It's not changing, it's not improving. But hey, it's not getting worse.
Back-Up Story - 3: Krona, huh? Cosmic eggs?
Well color me thrilled.
And oh look, yet another DC character is randomly spouting sharp objects from his back. Because just Supergirl wasn't enough, oh no no no.
Back-Up Art - 3: Again, I have nothing else to say here. It just... is.
Cover Art - 3: The collagen-infested lips of an adult film star, a half-missing nose, a waist half as wide as her torso, and hair from 1982... what more could you possibly ask for from a Wonder Woman cover?
Her lips are casting a SHADOW on her face, people. And that lion looks like a pencil sketch out of a textbook from 1922. All we need is an old-timey circus barker with a huge handlebar moustache standing next to them on a podium, waving his cane around wildly and encouraging you to "Step right up and see the disaster within, folks! Money back guarantee if you're not completely satisfied*! This issue is as right and true as Doc McGoo's Magic Triple Elixir, which is as filled with Sunshine, Earthshine and Moonshine as I am with vim, vigor and vitality for your pleasure, your amusement and your enjoyment!"
Sunshine, Earthshine and Moonshine? Vim, vigor and vitality? Pleasure, amusement and enjoyment? Holy crap, IT'S A TRINITY OF TRINITIES!
IT MUST BE GOOD! Sign me up.
That's Doc McGoo's Magic Triple Elixir, folks! Sure to make even the most substandard drivel appear to be spinning and blurry right before your very eyes... so you don't have to read it!
* - guarantee only valid within cosmic eggs.
Lead Story - 1: I'm going to try and see if a justification of my rating can be achieved simply by summarizing the story. I haven't tried this before, but I think it might just work here. Just the facts, without evaluation, as damnation:
Superman talks in space while examining the residue of planets that appeared and then disappeared on the "etheric scanner."
He spends the time using "thought-bubble" style captions to muse on the fact that he and Wonder Woman and Batman are part of a Trinity, something that's already been mentioned many times in past issues with no conclusion.
This is followed by a visit to the Hall of Justice. Once there, he again mentions Konvikt. And Graak.
They check on the "Cosmic Egg," a large, yellow egg from another story I've read but cannot recall any salient details of. I think it was the JLA arc that ran too long and had very little seeming point. They then mention Krona, a villain who is used in many Busiek stories, who just happens to make his serendipitous escape later in the same issue.
Batman and Hawkgirl research Wolf-Men in the database. Wolf-Men that have serendipitously captured Tarot, the second serendipitous search that becomes relevant later in the issue.
Wonder Woman's Lana tattoo has again morphed into another shape with no explanation or relevance to the plot.
Hawkman indicates that the items being stolen by vandals are occult in nature. Batman then goes absolutely ape@$%# and calls in Nightwing and begins expending resources over the slight connection between Tarot card symbols, the marks on Wonder Woman's back, and the fact that Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are a Trinity, which, to the heroes, indicate (without logic) that there is an entity out there seeking something of, quote, "Major significance."
Batman's code to either contact Nightwing or, well, it's undetermined in this matter is "Voice Network 463-Delta-7, target 3, passcode 1, override: Halley's."
Wonder Woman then irrationally indicates that all of the recent events are connected without logical corollary to do so.
Despero sees something on the ground we can't see that is apparently of much import.
Morgan and Enigma emerge from a portal and offer Despero the ability to become a god.
Yep. I think that's pretty damning enough, without me having to make even a single comment on it. Reviewer code 3, Target Busiek-4-alpha-negaton, eschew regulation parameters, the crap is in the box. Repeat. The crap is in the box. THIS IS URGENT!
Lead Art - 4: Bagley's faces are a little rough hewn still, in this issue. But the action, the paneling, the creativity involved are pretty darned sweet, as far as I'm concerned. I like his style, and the way he accomplishes storytelling. Even something as ridiculous as the Etheric Scanner at least looks realized well by his work. I'd love to see him draw a full-blown action scene instead of heroes standing around making arbitrary connections, and with a character unlike, well, Konvikt.
Back-Up Story - 1: What happens here isn't very clear when it's interesting, and is totally clear when it's boring.
John Stewart fights nameless goons that do not challenge him (yawn) in a ripoff of the Danger Room for the JLA that I didn't even know they had. This is very clear.
Krona's history, which I had forgotten due to its semi-mediocrity and similarity to Brainiac's without the cool ruthlessness but WITH the odd Sinestro moustache, is recounted, meaning that they're setting up a Krona story and yet know that Krona is an obscure pet character for the self-indulgent writer, as they did for Libra. Still boring.
Then, I believe Krona escapes, in the process turning John computer-like. Unclear, but also boring, given that I don't know what the heck is going on.
Back-Up Art - 3: It's kind of hard to condemn this as an early-90s art feel, given that the story feels like an early 90s story. But then, the artist's lamentable onus is then to thereby take the work into the present despite the story, and that doesn't happen here. I feel for the artist in this respect, but nonetheless.
Still, the background are not sloppy, the story is well told, and so it balances out.
Cover Art - 2: Wonder Woman's kind of oddly angular here in a way I can't really define, but it throws off the image. Her face is kind of, I dunno, fat. And no, don't go writing me, "WHY CAN'T WONDER WOMAN BE FAT!?" Bite me. I mean, it's just wide for the scale of her body.
Also, she's under the Superman symbol. How hard would it have been to put the character under their right symbol? Thematically, it jars the cover.
Interesting background, but not my cup of tea. Better than Konvikt, though.
Lead Story - 1: OK OK I get it now. Obviously, "Trinity" doesn't take place on New Earth or Earth 1 or any of the 52 Earths we've come to know and love. It's clear now that this story takes place on Earth-Busiek. Yup, ultimately this isn't about telling the best story in DC continuity for 52 weeks. It's a vanity project by Busiek addressing concepts he introduced in "JLA versus Avengers" and that no one has picked up on since except for Busiek himself during his run on "JLA".
Forget about the multiverse-spanning cosmic event on the plate right now in "Final Crisis". This is a completely different multiverse-spanning cosmic event. One that starts from the premise that, just over the rainbow isn't Earth-2, home of the JSA, but the entire Marvel Universe.
I think it's really bad form for DC to let Busiek use concepts he first used in a joint DC/Marvel comic book. I didn't like it any better when the Cosmic Egg was used a few years back in "JLA" either. It seems to have no relationship whatsoever to the current DCU status quo. If anything it kind of feels like a really lame attempt to entice Marvel readers to a DC weekly with a gee-whiz "OOoooh he's really using this thing that was part of a DC/Marvel crossover so it must mean something for Marvel too". Well it doesn't. In fact Marvel has yet to acknowledge the "JLA versus Avengers" book in Marvel continuity.
Moreover, Busiek's JLA isn't a team - it's a corporation whose Board of Directors are the Big Three. The rest of the team is written as if they are working directly for Supey, Bats, and Wondy.
Back-Up Story - 1: This story is just an excuse to re-tell the story of Krona, the bad blue pre-Guardian Maltusan and his role in the creation of the universe/multiverse. Krona's tale has been retold by Busiek twice before in "JLA versus Avengers" and "JLA" in story arcs about the Cosmic Egg. So this is the third time he's retelling the same backstory to address the same dangling plot point. Lame.
Art - 2: The artwork in the lead and back up is not bad. It's just a bit plain and average. But what really earns the 2 for the art this issue is the last page of the comic. I'm not quite sure what's going on here plot-wise and the artist appears largely to blame. What is all the shrapnel and broken equipment on that last page supposed to signify? That the Cosmic Egg monitoring equipment is broken? That the Egg itself has 'escaped' from JLA custody? I just don't get it and I just don't care.
On the plus side? A Werewolf Jimmy Olsen wearing a green plaid sports coat and green bowtie.
Cover Art - 2: These covers have officially grown predictably tedious. The poses are dull given there's only so much you can do when you're trying to connect three covers at a time with one hero apiece. Just like in the last triptych, this one has Wonder Woman using her lasso. Instead of purple-skinned Konvikt, we've got a purple background. And Diana's feet are posed exactly the same anatomically impossible way that Batman's feet were posed on the cover to the last issue.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.