Cafu’s “Captain Atom” artwork is nice on the co-feature, but after not having read this series for a few months, I don’t really know what’s going on in the James Robinson-penned tale. There’s dinosaurs, so that’s something. And the final page has a dude with a spear mounted atop a giant flying green squid creature. So it can’t be all bad.
And as brief as it is, the co-feature is much better than the Nightwing and Flamebird main story. It’s so much better that I’m baffled about how “Action Comics” has kept any readers at all over the past year.
In this issue, which is capably drawn by Pere Perez but doesn’t look much different from any other mediocre DC comic of recent vintage, Nightwing and Flamebird (who have been the lead characters in this book for the past twelve months, as Superman has been off doing his not-very-interesting thing on New Krypton), the protagonists fight God. Well, their god at least, the god Rao. “A mad god, rampaging across the Middle East.”
Remember the recent “Justice Society of America” arc by Geoff Johns, in which Gog marched across the landscape, raising questions of divinity and humanity and the role of the superhero? This is a much weaker version of that story, with Rao (or “Rao,” since he’s not exactly acting like the real deal) lacking the personality of Gog, who wasn’t all that interesting himself.
And, perhaps worst of all, the story is mostly narrated through the form of a story filed by Lois Lane. Lois, a war correspondent of a sort in this tale, reports back with what she sees, and her posts are insipid, poorly written, and thin on journalistic detail. They read like blog posts from an amateur, not examples of professional reportage. Lois Lane, in the DCU, is an award-winning journalist. You wouldn’t know it from her weak writing skills here.
The Nightwing and Flamebird story hinges on the reader caring about what happens to the characters. And it’s just difficult to do so. Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann haven’t made their protagonists interesting. Not in this issue. And not in any previous issues I’ve read. But, as I said in the beginning, I haven’t stayed with this series all year. I drifted away from it last fall, because it wasn’t very good back then.
Checking in this week, it seems that it hasn’t gotten any better at all. And with Lois’ clumsy “journalistic” narration, it’s possibly worse than ever.