DC Round-Up Comics Released 4/13/16

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How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing Black Canary 10 and Starfire 11.

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Black Canary 10

Black Canary 10MarkBlack Canary 10 is a hard issue to like. As far as the actual plot and writing go, at this point, you’re either onboard with Black Canary‘s particular brand of “punk” heroism or you’re not. But the simplicity of this month’s story, where Dinah and Batgirl try to learn more about Dinah’s mother, makes this the most successful Black Canary issue in a while. They have friendly banter, reminisce a bit, and kick some ass. It’s fun to see these two characters back together.

So why is the issue hard to like? Artistically, it’s a mess. Moritat and Sandy Jarrell share pencil duties, and, whatever you think of their aesthetic, there are panels that are literally unfinished. 

Black Canary 10

Check out the left arm of the second minion up there.

And while just last issue I called Lee Loughridge’s colors the MVP, here they suffer from the same lack of care. In Batgirl and Dinah’s first fight in the record store, Dinah’s shirt starts out red, changes to white for the remainder of the fight, and then immediately reverts back to red. I know mistakes happen, but on top of the other art problems that litter the issue, it feels like Black Canary 10 was a total rush job. Shame they’re still charging $3 for it.

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Starfire 11

Starfire 11Spencer: Starfire has always been a talky series, but it’s rarely felt like a problem, since the verbose, expository nature of the dialogue is such a comfortable fit for Kori, the character who always says what’s on her mind and never hides how she feels. Starfire 11, though, is practically drowning in copy, and it’s to the issue’s detriment. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti explain every point they want to make three or four times, even dropping two different explanations of “emofluid” on two consecutive pages (it relaxes people and makes them speak their mind, which, to be honest, is a bit redundant in a book like Starfire to begin with; often all these characters do is speak their mind, with or without emofluid).

Kori and Stella’s argument is especially frustrating, as the two argue each other in circles, repeating their points over and over in different ways. The conflict and their arguments are true to the characters, but its circular nature and the amount of space it takes up is just maddening. Conner and Palmiotti could have made their points in half the space, and it would have been far more effective.

(Not to mention that, even with all that exposition, Conner and Palmiotti never do explain why it’s so significant that Stella’s suit turned white.)

Then there’s the scene with Choor, which is truly perplexing; what starts out as a beat for Stella where she stands up for herself against a far too forward man turns into a plot where Kori accidentally ends up causing Choor to give birth to their children. I don’t even know if I can begin to dissect what makes me uncomfortable about this plot, but man, does it ever give me the heebie jeebies.

It’s a shame there’s so much of this issue that ends up feeling mishandled or misguided, because, as always, there’s a lot of fun, smart ideas being presented here: Sol and the space worm’s roadtrip is funny and touching in equal measure, and the conflict between Kori wanting to find herself and wanting to keep her friends safe is compelling and true to the character. Elsa Charretier’s artwork continues to dazzle, and perhaps most importantly, the issue continues to build itself around strong, supportive female friendships.

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So yeah, it’s a shame that that strong framework gets bent and buried by a glut of overexplaining. Starfire 11 really could have benefitted from a heaping helping of subtlety.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

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5 comments on “DC Round-Up Comics Released 4/13/16

  1. I still like Constantine. I think it’s created a good story for Constantine and one that further defines his natural self-preservation instincts.

    It’s going to be one of the stories I’m sticking with through Rebirth. Although I’ll admit, just like on Marvel’s non-reboot, I’ll put in some effort to try as many DC titles as I can (which means in the next couple of months I’m dropping a TON of Marvel, so pick up your game).

    • Our collective enthusiasm for DC took kind of a nose-dive in the last several months, but we’re already looking forward to Rebirth. I do expect our game, as it were, will be picked up.

      • Yeah, I’m in the same situation as you guys.

        I think a big problem is largely the fact that DC is busy preparing for Rebirth, so let’s hope it is a bit of a return to from from a quality perspective. Let’s hope Rebirth is a success

  2. Black Canary: The real big mistake that Black Canary made is to try and connect this new story to the idea of bands and stuff. What I liked when this arc begun was that now it was about Black Canary’s new family entering her world. But it seems like the writers enjoy the rock aspects so much that they refuse to turn Black Canary into the martial arts epic the story is supposed to be.

    Batgirl was a welcome presence, but ultimately very disappointing

    Catwoman: I don’t know why I’m still reading this. The first arc post Valentine was disappointing, but 50 (which I forgot to discuss here) ended with a tease for the next story that I had to read just to see how things were going to go wrong.

    When the NEw 52 begun, didn’t they give Black mask mind control powers in an attempt to make him more threatening? There was something stupid like that, but it is honestly pretty meaningless because we know how to make Black Mask a threat. Catwoman. Because Black Mask is Catwoman’s Joker.

    Relentless, by virtue of being the best Catwoman storyline of all time, during a time when Catwoman was one of the best books on the shelves, will forever define Black mask as Catwoman’s ultimate enemy. And it works for a very good reason. Black Mask in Relentless worked perfectly as the sort of villain who pushes Catwoman to the limit, and that’s how he’s continued. He worked as a villain, because whenever he turned up, Catwoman had to chip away a little bit of her soul. Nothing is majorly wrong with Black Mask, as proven by his sensational villainy in Valentine’s run.

    And now Tieri is trying to build this complex thing about evil magic masks that cursed people throughout history. THankfully, 51 revealed that the evil mask is not the one Black Mask wears (it just looks like it) but this mask is now part of a secret history the two of them share and ARGH!

    None of this is necessary, and it serves only to make everything worse. Black Mask doesn’t need to be connected to some magical conspiracy, nor have history with Catwoman. What makes Black Mask work is that he is a monster to the degree that Catwoman will always stand against him, and that it will always hurt.

    And having him rip off Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight is also a mistake. Just because he is Catwoman’s Joker doesn’t mean he is literally the Joker

  3. Mark, I didn’t really notice the art problems with Black Canary the way you did at first. I actually loved the issue. Most interestingly, this issue provided two different templates of how this series SHOULD have been. The first is that first page, which just highlighted the band battling other band weirdness (like the magic guitar lady Dinah mentions) and inspiring their fans to be better. The other is a martial arts/detective frenzy. Both takes are well done in this issue, and focusing on either one would have made this a really strong title. Trying to split the difference and throw in all the spy stuff hasn’t always made for the most focused storytelling, even in Black Canary’s best issues.

    But yeah, I still loved this issue.

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