The Week In Ink: May 19, 2010

And now, here’s the 3-D Man with some advice for those of you in failing relationships:



Yes, it’s time once again for the Internet’s Most Tingly Comics Reviews! And since I’ve started narrowing down the field of what I review every week, this time I’ve decided to do a theme. So to that end, here are my thoughts on three comics by dudes named Paul!



Batman: Streets of Gotham #12: Paul Dini gets a lot of flak from the Comics Blogger Internet for being in love with certain characters and overusing them, but while there are a lot of legitimate complaints you can make about the guy’s work, I really don’t think that’s one of them.

I mean, yes, he throws Harley Quinn and Zatanna (see below) into just about everything, but a) it’s not like there aren’t a ton of fans out there who love those characters just as much as he does, and b) what’s wrong with a guy writing about the stuff he likes? I mean, I certainly wouldn’t want to write Gambit and Wonder Man at the Gathering of the Juggalos, and most of the time, he’s fleshing out characters that make for a richer storytelling environment. It doesn’t always work out–the amped-up Mr. Zsasz, for instance, fell totally flat for me and Hush is a character that is fundamentally flawed in that he sucks, he’s stupid and I hate him–and Dini’s got his share of comics that are thoroughly lousy for other reasons, but when it does work, it’s really good.

Which brings me to this issue, which focuses on The Carpenter, who was introduced a while back as a henchman to what seemed at the time like throwaway villain, and who Dini has further developed since. In this issue, she fits a perfect little Paul Gambi role that you don’t see too often: in addition to henching, she also puts her carpentry skills to use building deathtraps in super-villain hideouts. It’s a concept that could easily devolve into navel-gazing, but Dini keeps the story moving at a brisk, engaging pace, even pairing her up with a new (and hilariously over the top) villain. Which, again, is something that’s great about Dini’s work when he’s on: He brings new stuff to the table, and it’s often pretty clever.

There are only two problems with the story: First, Batman’s barely in it. That’s not a huge issue if the story that’s being told is good enough (which this one is), and while Batman’s name is on the cover, this is Streets of Gotham, which is ostensibly designed to provide a wider take on Gotham City and the extended Batman Family. Like I said, it’s a good story and between you and me, I only really care about what Batman’s doing in comics by Grant Morrison these days, but for whatever reason, his absence was noticeable. Probably because it’s him and a bunch of bats on the cover rather than the Carpenter, setting up expectations that aren’t met.

Secondly, and far more insurmountable, there’s a break in the (enjoyable) Carpenter story to continue the (not enjoyable) other stuff that’s been going on in the book, and holy crap, did you guys know there’s a character in this book named Abuse? I probably would’ve noticed this sooner if I hadn’t completely checked out of the main story in favor of the Manhunter backups (which this month is unfortunately saddled with some art I flat-out do not care for) about six months ago, but man. As much as I value Dini’s attempts to bring in new stuff: That is straight up rough.

Overall, though, it’s pretty good stuff, and I’m glad to see it. When Dini’s bad, he’s downright atrocious, but when he’s good, he does exactly the sort of stuff I want to read.


Legion of Super-Heroes #1: One of my favorite franchises got a relaunch this week, and, well… it’s certainly a comic about the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The return of Paul Levitz to the title is something a lot of people have been excited about, and justifiably so: He wrote some of the best comics in the history of the team. An Eye for an Eye isn’t just a high point for the Legion, it’s a high point for comics in the ’80s, and that’s saying something. But it’s been a quarter of a century since that came out, and this issue just feels off.

From a technical standpoint, it’s not bad–at the very least, Levitz has always been good at the juggling of multiple plot threads that having such a big cast requires– and it’s very well-done artwise, but it just sort of lays there on the page, completely failing to engage me. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been thinking so much about the Legion lately, and maybe it’s that I’ve been re-reading the Tom Peyer/Tom McCraw/Roger Stern ’90s Legion issues lately, but considering that I really liked what Geoff Johns did in Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, which leads directly to this, I should’ve liked it more than I did.

But instead, it just gets worse the more I think about it. There are inconsistencies in the characters (Brainiac 5 acts way more like a ranting mad scientist than he did in SATLOSH) and the book’s major plot point just doesn’t make sense. The Legion letting Earth-Man join after he literally has themthrown into concentration camps or imprisoned in glass boxes that let him steal their powers is just crazy, and the fact that it’s only addressed by a hand-waving “oh it’s political” line makes it even worse. Creating tension within a team is fine, but the only Legionnaires in this book that are actually from Earth are Sun Boy (who Earth-Man tortured half to death) and Colossal Boy (whose wife was beaten and imprisoned by Earth-Man), so why would anyone want to have him on the team to smooth over political repercussions? They make a big deal about reforming him into an example of “Earthers” cooperating with aliens, but the guy is Space Hitler. There’s no reason given why they actually need Earth’s backing, just that it’s “where the Legion belongs.” There’s a mention of sharing the Time Institute’s discoveries with the rest of the United Planets, but again: They already have time travel, and we know that because they just finished teaming up with Superman, who is from a thousand years in the past. None of it makes any sense.

And then there’s the cover, where book that’s an old version of a team written by a guy who wrote it 25 years ago that even has its old logo gets billed as “AN ALL-NEW ERA.” I don’t mean to knock Levitz here, but seriously: What’s all-new about this? There are plenty of superlatives you could hang on this one (“A RETURN TO GREATNESS!” “THE CLASSIC TEAM REBORN!” “HEY OLD FOLKS, HERE’S YOUR COMICS!”) and in all fairness, I guess it actually is a new “era” for the Legion, but it feels like someone’s having a laugh.

I really want there to be a good Legion comic, and at this point, I don’t care if it’s the reboot, the threeboot, the deboot, the animated series, crazy porno fanart or what. I’ve got my preference, sure, but right now I just want it to be good. And this issue doesn’t fit the bill, no matter how much I wish it did.


Zatanna #1: So this is a comic that opens with a full-page splash of Zatanna bound, gagged and about to be drilled from behind.




It is pretty hilarious. It’s also based on an actual illusion, but Paul Dini’s a smart enough guy that he’s not oblivious to the symbolism in what he’s writing, especially considering that he put Dr. Light in there. He is, in essence, opening his book with a response to every one of his critics who dismisses him as a writer with a crush on Zatanna, and that response is “Yeah, so?” It’s Dini brushing his shoulders off, and that’s pretty awesome.

There’s no denying that Zatanna is one of his favorites–a good thing, as his marriage likely hinges on being at least a little in love with a hot magician–but the end result of that is that he’s actually written a string of really good Zatanna stories. There’s the Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited episodes, of course, but also 2003’s very underrated Vertigo one-shot, and while I’m pretty sure she appeared more than Alfred and Commissioner Gordon combined during his run on Detective Comics, but again, they were decent stories.

And now, she’s been bumped up to her first ever ongoing, and even past the metatextual hilarity of the splash page, it’s pretty solid. There’s clear motivation, a nice setup, a quick introduction to set of villains that get handily dealt with in an action scene that lends the book a good bit of pacing. One of Dini’s core strengths in comics has been his ability to get things done both good and quickly (his Detective run is marked by a string of solid single-issue stories), and he does everything you want from a first issue here. It’s solid stuff, and I’m hoping it gets better as it goes on.



And that’s the week! As always, if something caught your eye, feel free to tell me about it in the comments section below, and for more reviews of this week’s comics, tune in to Ajax on Monday and keep an eye on ComicsAlliance, where we’ve got a big roundtable coming up where we tackle Avengers #1!

45 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: May 19, 2010

  1. I have a theory that Zatanna takes more baths than any other character in comics. It seems like every comic she’s in at some point features her in the tub or heading for the tub. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But is this some sort of inside joke at DC, or is it a coincidence that everyone who writes a story featuring her wants to see her naked and covered in suds?

  2. Wire — you find me someone who doesn’t want to see Zatanna naked, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t want to see ANY woman naked. Science Fact.

    About the Legion — fingers crossed. First issues are always kind of wonky, and, well, maybe . . . maybe Sun Boy and Gim are drunk? Stoned out of their gourds? I dunno, I expected them to be a lot more violent, too. Then again, Brainy ranting makes a lot more sense when you remember exactly how messed up the whole situation is (and you’re right, Chris, “it’s political” is kind of a dodgy handwave). Of course, I’m biased, because I like the fact that Brainy occasionally goes off the deep end and builds bad ideas with built-in disintegrator rays and tank treads.

    Honestly, the thing that surprised me the most about Legion #1 is that we saw Polar Boy in bed with a woman. I’m cool with it (pun intended), I just kind of got the impression he didn’t, well, want to see Zatanna naked.

  3. “did you guys know there’s a character in this book named Abuse”

    Yeah and he’s an 8 year old street orphan with hulk powers. Actually sort of cool imho.

    Wow did not know about Dini’s wife, I can’t stop laughing. So much explained.

    I get what you’re saying on Legion, but I have much lower standards than comic bloggers. Though I find it hilarious that just last week we saw the “birth” of Titan in Adventure, then this week this happens.

  4. I actually enjoyed Legion quite a deal, but I’m not exactly a fan of the characters so I might just be an outcast here. It seemed to be well received everywhere else though.

  5. I have no one to blame but myself, for more than one reason, but trying to read Legion #1 was like… well, like a lot of comics I like must be like for other people. I don’t want to say impenetrable, but definitely like I walked in on the middle of something and not like a relaunch. Then again, beyond your and David’s Legion refresher, the bulk of my experience with them is the first five issues of Waid and Kitson’s run.

  6. I HAVE SHOCKING NEWS: Brightest Day still sucks.

    On a lighter side (har har), the Mystery Voice’s utter failure to come up with a good racial epithet to throw at Ronnie Raymond (seriously, “White Boy”?) has prompted a few fans to try and come up with an actual counterpart to the stupidityof “Blackstorm.” What say you to “Firecracker”?

  7. On Brightest Day; are they just daring people to bring up the disparity between the book’s title and the graphic violence at this point? Because the bit I saw in the store implied they are.

  8. Also, I’m going to just go ahead and call the Ronnie Raymond Firestorm Firecracker from now on, if that’s okay with you David.

  9. Sadly, because that would be the crowning achievement of my life as a comics nerd, I didn’t come up with it. But feel free to spread the joy!

  10. If you actually wrote “Gambit and Wonder Man at the Gathering of the Juggalos,” I would spread that on my toast, good sir.

  11. So now us Legion fans will go from “Please don’t suck” to the “maybe it will get better” game.

  12. I have long wondered whether Paul Dini has a crush on Zatanna because he married the woman he married, or whether he married the woman he married because he has a crush on Zatanna. But, like, not wondered hard enough to actually care.

    I’m a little surprised to see you aren’t part of the Cult of Atomic Robo, Chris. DOCTOR DINOSAUR seems like he’d be EXACTLY what you want from a funnybook.

  13. Even though I’ve wanted a Zatanna ongoing since Seven Soldiers (the whole idea of a superhero as a performer or artist is a really cool idea), I was largely nonplussed by the comic’s announcement, mostly because I gave up long ago on Dini’s writing ever improving or at least being coherent. If it wasn’t for these reviews, I would have just continued ignoring his work. I’m not particularly optimistic of this becoming a trend, but considering how bad most of DC’s output currently is, any sign of improvement is nice.

    Also, Jason actually called Ronnie “white boy”? Like as an overt reference to him being a White Lantern? I mean, there’s no way that anyone could think that turning the phrase into a derogatory term for a fictional organization less than two years old was good. Do they think that by referencing the company’s current casually racism, they’ll be able to just get rid of it?

  14. “Gambit and Wonder Man at the Gathering of the Juggalos”

    The thought of this is going to give me Fried Ice Cream Face for days. Ugh.

  15. “I certainly wouldn’t want to write Gambit and Wonder Man at the Gathering of the Juggalos”.

    But would Jeff Parker?

  16. Psst. Your ring’s on upside down, ya dummy

    Looks the right way round to me (assuming you’re referring to the Legion ring – I can’t make out the green lantern one and isn’t that symmetrical anyway).

    And they really let Earth-Man into the Legion? The guy was built up as a complete villain in SATLOSH so I’m not sure how you’d redeem him. Did someone on the creative team really like him or thought the name was cool or something?

  17. Firecracker. Genius. New insult of choice, thank you very much David!

    Also, ho ho, I got Furu’s pun JUST in time. Close one.

  18. I had to draw an L on my finger to figure it out, but yeah it looks like that flight ring (Behold!) is on the right way up. At least, that’s how I’d wear it.

  19. I had to draw an L on my finger to figure it out, but yeah it looks like that flight ring (Behold!) is on the right way up. At least, that’s how I’d wear it.

    Draw an L on your finger. Go to a mirror. Hold your fist out like you’re flying or punching someone.

    You are a member of the 7egion of Super-Heroes.

  20. Just wanted to quickly say- The last page of WWE Heroes #3 is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in months.

    That is all.

  21. But do you think Gambit and Wonder Man can explain how freakin’ magnets work?

  22. I’m glad to see I’m not the only who felt like LoSH #1 should’ve been better. I keep reading reviews talking about how fantastic it was, and I really started to wonder if some other LoSH #1 came out this week.

  23. Draw an L on your finger. Go to a mirror. Hold your fist out like you’re flying or punching someone. You are a member of the 7egion of Super-Heroes.

    But I’d wear a ring so that the bottom was closest to my palm (I thought most people did. Hey ho).

    Therefore, when I deliver an upper-cut (as per the cover above) the L is the right way up as it impacts into the chin. :)

    Plus, there is no up in spaaaace.

  24. Ditto. I’m kind of a frothing-at-the-mouth rabid LSH fanatic, and this is the most indifferent shrug of an issue I’ve flipped through in a really long time.

  25. While I’m obviously inherently biased in favour of Dini’s work, I have to second the praise for that Vertigo one-shot. Dini was on his game, Rick Mays was on his game, AND it had Constantine.

    DC shouldn’t cross over with Vertigo my ass. Stupid DiDio.

  26. @ Nimbus
    “”And they really let Earth-Man into the Legion? The guy was built up as a complete villain in SATLOSH so I’m not sure how you’d redeem him. Did someone on the creative team really like him or thought the name was cool or something?”

    Maybe Levitz just read Legion of Three Worlds and thought “the LOSH redeeming a complete bastard” was a good storyline to explore.

  27. Paul Dini is married to a stage magician?? Please tell me they have a son named Hugh!!

  28. I just have to wonder how DIni’s wife feels about that page. “Honey, I wrote a comic where you flirt with Batman” is guaranteed to go over well with any woman. “Honey, I wrote a comic where you’re in bound and gagged while two men are preparing to drill you from behind” is not. Either she’s angry or we just found way too much about Paul and Misty’s sex life.

    And I too want to see Zatanna naked, but is it wrong I want her to be wearing the hat?

  29. @Michael Simon:

    Also, Jason actually called Ronnie “white boy”?

    no, a voice called Ronnie “white boy” but he was the only one that heard it. he assumed it was Jason. considering how the speech bubble looked, it might a residual Black Lantern thing.

  30. reading your Legion review got me wondering. Do you think DC will ever just throw in th towel and start reprinting stories from 1979-1985? Just start in 1979 reprint every comic in monthly format, and then after 5 years begin the process again. Just endlessly loop them, that way they don’t have to pay writers to write ”new” stories anymore. They get all the characters they like in their semi-prime and the form they like. Plus no overhead.

  31. You are a member of the 7egion of Super-Heroes.

    Damn your logic, Sims! (And damn my shitty spatial visualization skills.)

  32. Did you read the Rescue one-shot? I mean Kelly Sue DeConnick is the first person on your sidebar

  33. I actually finished reading Legion #1 last night. I liked it okay once I got in to the meat of it, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to convert me in to a regular reader (beyond the fact that I really shouldn’t add any new monthlies to my pull (much less two, with Adventure Comics tying in), it was also something I’d have to file under “that sure is a superhero comic”). So… thanks for trying to educate Legion novices anyway, even if I’m not jumping on right now.

  34. And finally, I really have to acknowledge that “Hey Old Folks, Here’s Your Comics” is a great tag line for this comic and the DCU as a whole at this point. And a lot of Marvel comics too. As well as Geriatric Comics, which I’m hoping to get off the ground any day now, if only to cash in on Betty White mania. Because it will be like Dynamite’s publishing strategy for Green Hornet, but with the Golden Girls instead.

  35. Thinking about Streets of Gotham and Abuse in particular, I kinda like how Dini is embracing Damian. Morrison always said he made Damian to be USED, to be a real part of the bat family, after B&R I’m liking him most in SoG and I kind of like the idea of Damian having friends his own age.

  36. The Dr Light/Joker thing in Zatanna seemed off to me. These are real rapists/mass murderers in Zatanna’s life. She’s going to use people dressed as them in her stage act? The only way I can see it working in character is if it’s a bid to draw the real guys out.

  37. The ‘Joker’ in the act is really just begging for a ‘villian infiltrates theatrical production by playing himself’-plot.

  38. Also: no mention of Adam Warren’s fantastic “Galacta – Daughter of Galactus”?

  39. So to that end, here are my thoughts on three comics by dudes named Paul!

    Also: no mention of Adam Warren’s fantastic “Galacta – Daughter of Galactus”?

    comics by dudes named Paul!

    Adam Warren’s fantastic “Galacta – Daughter of Galactus”?

    dudes named Paul!

    Adam Warren’s



  40. That page really isn’t a response to anything other than Dini’s desire to see Zatanna bound, gagged and about to be drilled from behind.

    It’s like arguing that Zatanna taking a bath is Dini’s Response To Critics Who Say That he wants to watch Zatanna taking baths.