Archive for DCU Decisions

A Little More Politics for your Post-Election Hangover

DC Universe Decisions #4

The assassin targeting the presidential candidates has finally been identified — it’s Jericho, the Teen Titans’ body-possessor, and he’s somehow turned evil yet again. He’s also managed to take over Green Lantern’s body, so he’s got the Most Powerful Weapon in the Universe sitting on his finger. Luckily, Hal is able to expel him before he does too much damage, and the superhero psychic Mento determines that in the process of jumping from one body to the next, Jericho has managed to acquire traces of the personalities of hundreds of people, and it’s turned him into a psychotic loon. As for all the problems with superheroes endorsing politicians, Superman apparently solves it all by speechifying.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Supes comes across as an opinionless weasel, and the stuff with Jericho was just embarrassing. It was just a year or two that DC worked their tails off to redeem him into a non-villainous character, and now they’ve chucked him back down the hole again. This entire series was pushed as an explicitly political story, and in the end, it just ended up being dull, middle-of-the-road, and afraid to express any strong political opinions at all. What a waste.

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns

Okay, Sinestro is going to be executed by the Green Lantern Corps, so they take him back to his home planet of Korugar because… I really don’t know. Anyway, the new Red Lantern Corps, composed of people who can harness great hatred and rage, is on the rise, and their primary attack appears to be vomiting blood on their enemies. Their members include Atrocitus the demon, Laira, a former Green Lantern, and a pretty blue kitty. The Red Lanterns jump into a fight between the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps, and we get our first glimpse of the Blue Lantern.

Verdict: I think I’m going to give this a thumbs down, too. The blood puking is really pretty silly.

The Family Dynamic #3

Troylus, Terran, and Little Wing swing into action against Monstero and quickly find themselves over their heads. Luckily, their parents show up to help take down the villain. Afterwards, at Sloane’s birthday party, it becomes clear that he’s the only person in the family who doesn’t know that his sister and niece are Blackbird and Little Wing. And before anyone can spill the beans to him, a new villain appears — Replik8, a duplicater with a weird beehive hairdo.

Verdict: Ehh, not bad, but not all that great, either. The back-and-forth between the family members is grand fun, and I’m not sure we need quite so many supervillains anyway, especially when they seem to come and go so quickly.

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Infinite Political Crisis


DC Universe Decisions #3

Wonder Woman endorses a Republican candidate who’s a former soldier, while Superman saves a Democratic candidate from another bomb — and apparently, the candidate himself placed the bomb. Mind control again, obviously, but a particular kind of mind control. Oh, and Flash gets in trouble when, frustrated that the media only cares about superhero endorsements and not about the threats to the candidates, he endorses the mad bomber for the presidency. Huntress steals Lady Blackhawk’s endorsement rationale, Wonder Woman’s and Bruce Wayne’s candidate endorsements were mainly an excuse to get closer to the candidates to track down other suspects, Clark Kent is sleeping on the couch, and the assassin is finally revealed…

Verdict: I’m not sure. On one hand, the story is generally fine, the dialogue is mostly good, everything generally makes sense. On the other hand, when something goes wrong, it seems to hit EPIC FAIL. Wonder Woman’s endorsement of the Republican former soldier indicates that she only approves of him because he’s a “warrior” — fine, that’s a reason why that character might think favorably of someone, but we also know that Wondy is actually an ambassador for peace from the Amazons, so being a soldier wouldn’t be her only reason to pick a candidate. Besides, Wondy’s long-running status as a feminist icon, both in the comics’ continuity and in real world pop culture, would suggest that she’d certainly want assurances from a candidate that he’d be favorably inclined towards feminist issues. (But I gotta say, the Republican candidate makes a great speech — really excellent dialogue there.)

We also get some more superhero endorsements, and this time, there are more of them who support candidates because of issues — Blue Beetle supports a candidate who favors universal health care, and Jay Garrick likes the moderate GOP candidate because she’d “get big government off our backs, without getting us into another world war.” It’s nice to see some actual issues being cited, instead of the same old shallow stuff.

Oh, and the big bad assassin? Last time I checked, he had become a good guy. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.


Booster Gold #13

Booster, Skeets, and Goldstar save the life of a single woman in a tremendous disaster, because she was the only person who’d been fated to live. When they return to Rip Hunter’s HQ, they discover that Rip has been taken over by a Starro spore! He gets away in his time sphere and changes history so that the entire world has been dominated by Starro for centuries. They foil the initial plot, but Rip gets away, and soon they’re attacked by a bunch of Starro-dominated supervillains. Can Booster get away without getting a mind-controlling starfish slapped over his face?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The giant Starro the Conqueror may have been a middleweight villain, but the little Starro starfish are just plain wonderful bad guys.

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Political Image vs. Political Issues in a Four-Color World

DC Universe: Decisions #2

DC’s superheroes are still trying to track down the telepath who’s mind-controlling people into trying to kill the four presidential candidates, and Green Arrow’s endorsement of one of the Democratic candidates has thrown a spanner into the works. Not long afterwards, things get worse when Guy Gardner endorses one of the Republican candidates, and after that, the floodgates are opened, as just about every superhero starts endorsing their favorite candidates — Vixen, Power Girl, Wildcat, Hawkman, and Plastic Man lean Republican (though Plas is mainly exercising his libido in endorsing the lone female candidate), while Dr. Light, Beast Boy, and Firestorm favor the Democrats. There are still more attempts on the candidates’ lives, and there’s one more surprise endorsement, as Bruce Wayne announces his support for one of the Democrats.

Verdict: A little from Column A and a little from Column B. On one hand, I’m enjoying the story, with everyone trying to track down the would-be assassin. Character interactions seem pretty good — the fight between Green Arrow and Green Lantern is familiar, but it hits all the right notes. And the art for this issue is provided by Howard Porter, one of my fave DC artists ever since he drew Grant Morrison’s “JLA” series. (And speaking of Porter, here’s a really interesting interview about why his work has been so hard to find lately.)

So what are my quibbles about this issue? Well, the entire point of the story is supposed to be about politics, and just about everyone has really shallow reasons for supporting their candidates. Plastic Man likes one of the Republican candidates ’cause he’s a horndog. Beast Boy cites a candidate’s “gravitas” while Wildcat praises another’s toughness. In most cases, all they’re talking about is the candidate’s image — which is, of course, how a lot of folks really do pick their preferred candidate — picking the guy with the best slogan, who looks best on TV, who has the best public relations flacks.

But most of these characters aren’t saying they support a candidate because they agree with their political platform. No one says, “I’m pro-choice, so I support Candidate X” or “I dislike gun control, so I support Candidate Z.” People care about politics because they care about issues, and most of the superheroes don’t appear to care about any issues at all. The closest we get are Hawkman, who prefers his candidate because he has a military background, and Firestorm, who favors one candidate who has experience in international matters.

And one more thing that particularly irritated me — Power Girl’s reasoning for supporting her candidate is “He’ll keep us safe.” That’s a perfectly legitimate reason for someone to support a candidate, but it just doesn’t make sense coming from Power Girl. She doesn’t need a presidential candidate to keep her safe — she’s superstrong and bulletproof, so depicting her as someone who’s been suckered by the “Candidate X will keep you safe” routine is just crazy.

Heck, in Comic Book Land, who keeps you safe? It ain’t a strong military that repels alien invasions, it’s superheroes like Power Girl. Someone launches a nuke at New York? Power Girl’s up there swatting it down. It’s a minor point, sure, but it’s another piece of poor characterization that shows that the writers weren’t really thinking that hard about the sound bites they had the characters spouting.

I reckon I’ll keep reading this series, because I am enjoying the story, but the political content is, so far, just plain dorky. I hope the next two issues improve some in that regard, but I suspect they’ll remain fairly embarrassingly poor…

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Change We Can Disbelieve In

DC Universe Decisions #1

DC gets into election season by tapping conservative Bill Willingham and liberal Judd Winick to write about the impact of politics on the world of superheroes. An unknown villain is mind-controlling campaign workers into turning themselves into suicide bombers to try to assassinate a quartet of presidential candidates. The Justice League mobilizes, with everyone assigned to guard a candidate, either publicly in costume or undercover. Green Arrow breaks an unofficial superhero taboo by endorsing the liberal candidate he’s guarding.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one already had an uphill battle, due to half of its writing team being an incompetent dope who is never happy unless he’s killing random characters. Yes, I mean Winick. Jeez, I hate that guy. Anyway, the investigation into the would-be assassin is entertaining enough, I suppose. We don’t really get much insight into the political beliefs of our superheroes — everyone knew Green Arrow was a liberal, and it was a pretty good bet that Lois Lane, daughter of a general, would be conservative. Perhaps a bit weirder is that Lois has no clue whatsoever about her husband’s political beliefs, and he absolutely refuses to tell her. Wow, that’s a really awful depiction of married people, don’tcha think? Superman keeps incredibly pointless secrets from his wife, and Lois Lane, big-time investigative reporter, can’t figure out what her husband thinks about the important issues of the day.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #5

Captain Britain is getting adjusted to his new powers, and Faiza Hussain and the Black Knight talk to Faiza’s overprotective parents, finally winning them over to accepting her new powers by showing off the shiny magic sword she pulled from a stone. Spitfire revels in her control over her vampiric nature, and everyone welcomes the team’s newest member, Blade. Hold it, Blade? Yeah, turns out he was brought up in England. Hey, wait a minute, Blade really, really doesn’t like vampires, does he?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A conditional thumbs up, as long as Spitfire gets outta this okay. I love the characterization they’re doing for Faiza Hussain — she’s really turning out to be a very appealing character.

The Spirit #21

A former crime boss named Buzz Viviano is facing regular attempts on his life in prison, and his old gang kidnaps Ellen Dolan, daughter of Commissioner Dolan and girlfriend of the Spirit, to try to get Viviano released. The Spirit has a makeup artist disguise him as Viviano so he can track down the gang and rescue Ellen. Unfortunately, the gang actually wants Viviano dead, so a nice big fight erupts. Ellen gets away, meets up with a cycle gang and enlists their help. The cops release the real Viviano, hoping he’ll lead them to the rest of the gang. The whole thing ends with a fairly epic brawl between the Spirit, the crooks, the bikers, and the cops, with Ellen enthusiastically joining in the mayhem.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The fight at the end is lots of fun, and the rest of the story is pretty good, too.

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