Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Good, One Bleh

I got two comics read on the way home today. Well, three, actually, but I don't see the point in continuing to review Trinity. I liked it, same as all the other issues. It's one damn, long story, with no real surprises, just nice moments, decent art, and it's nearing its end. Nuff said.

Okay, so that leaves the two comics I actually am reviewing. One was oh so good and one was WTF? One was Wonder Woman 30 and one was Justice League of America 31. Wanna guess which was good and which was decidedly not good?

I'll start with the good, then end with the rant.

Wonder Woman 30 was probably Gail's best WW issue to date. It had emotion, drama, passion, fury, action, joy, love, and intrigue. It had Diana's ire and loyalty to friends. It had Diana's determination to save Etta. It had Steve Trevor (!). A likeable Steve Trevor who is Diana's friend as well as Etta's worried husband. It had Etta's bravery. It also had Cheetah's lunacy and Morrow's cowardice and... well, the man can waffle with the best of 'em. Good, bad, whatever, he sure isn't indifferent. We got Achilles! We saw the return of Amazons and Hippolyta embracing the returning Bana-Mighdall sisters. I was breathless by the end of this installment. I can't remember when I found Wonder Woman this entertaining and emotionally satisfying.

Which makes Justice League of America 31, and pretty much all of McDuffie's run, so perplexing. The book has Wonder Woman in it. It has some of DC's best, strongest characters, and yet, it's being run into the ground, both as a comic and the group in its pages. I really miss writers who get the characters and can show conflict without compromising the principles of those characters, or even their essence. And the annoying thing is, McDuffie is close to getting them right. They're just enough off to serve the story, which makes every bit of character development come across as plot-driven. The needs of the story dictate the characters' actions, rather than the characters moving the story.

The only bit that makes sense is no Batman because he's (currently) dead. When Diana and Kal talk about Bruce, it was the most honest emotion in the book. The second and only other honest emotion was Dinah and Roy, and even that had a false note because I got the sense that Roy was quitting the JLA not because of what happened with Kendra (which now looks like it was planned all along to give Roy a reason to quit, rather than because they really liked each other, only to have her call him by Carter's name during sex, which makes that doubly obvious a plot device), but because McDuffie is breaking up the JLA (for whatever reason) and Roy was an easy character to get rid of.

Dinah's scene with Ollie and Hal just sucked. Dinah annoyed because Ollie embarrassed her?! Give me a break. The talk she had after with Babs about sexism was fine, and the points made in that conversation were valid, but Dinah was acting like a woman who'd lost control of the group and was looking for scapegoats. Hal and Ollie weren't even in the JLA (John is supposed to be the GL of record). The sniping in the last scene, leading up to Dinah disbanding that 'branch" (WTF? Branch?) of the JLA, felt so wrong. All the cheap shots showed a group in disarray, not worth saving. Is it really possible that without the big 3, there can never be a JLA because no one else can get along?

Dinah is one of the strongest female characters DC has. She doesn't need to punch her husband because she felt embarrassed by him to prove it. She's not only physically capable, she's emotionally tough. The entire scene was unnecessary. A quick page to recap, show her feelings, mention the other group Hal is forming that Ollie's joining would've been enough. Instead, we get 10 pages (!), followed by another page with Dinah talking to Babs about it. That's nearly half the issue. For what? I have no idea why McDuffie dragged this out like this, but whatever his reason, it didn't work.

This was one long talking heads issue. Nothing really happened, other than to break up the team. Given that nothing much has happened of consequence since Brad Meltzer left the book, I'm wondering if there really was a team to break up. If McDuffie has great plans here, I'm not seeing the clues. What I am seeing is that the one reason I've been sticking with this book just walked out on the group. Yup, Roy.

And if he's really off for good, and Titans is the only place I get to see him monthly, I will be one very unhappy Roy Harper fan, because, let's face it, Titans makes Justice League of America look like Shakespeare, and I've been thinking of dropping it. Now I'm thinking of dropping Justice League, too.

I did like the cover. The interior art by Davis and Hope was nice, but some large panels (3 per page in too many instances) made it obvious that there wasn't much substance to this installment.

And I'm hoping the rest of this week's comics make up for this mess.


  1. Yup, JLA was awfully strange. I like Dinah and I even like Ollie, but they've not been themselves lately.

    Poor Roy. Is he going to be more prominent in Titans, along with Wally? Perhaps that is one of the reasons that they are clearing the decks.

  2. If that's the plan for Roy (and Wally), then they'd better get a better writer and better stories on Titans, because I'm really close to dropping it.